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Sources: Detroit Police Chief James Craig to announce retirement

Posted at 5:23 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 21:12:34-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — 7 Action News has learned Detroit Police Chief James Craig is set to announce his retirement next week.

The news comes from a source close to the 64-year-old chief. A news conference has been scheduled for Monday.

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The expected announcement comes as rumors swirl that Craig could run for office, possibly challenging Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Sources are also telling 7 Action News Craig is evaluating a run for the office.

A native Detroiter, Craig began his career as an officer with the Detroit Police Department, before leaving for the LAPD where he spent 28 years. Before returning to Detroit, Craig spent two years as police chief in Cincinnati.

Craig has been Detroit's police chief since being appointed by Emergency Manager Kevin Orr in 2013. During that time he oversaw the implementation of Project Green Light, which later sparked controversy over facial recognition technology.

Former Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt worked alongside Craig until he himself retired in 2017.

“He’s helped us implement the latest technology and I give him credit for that. He’s also been free of scandal for the most part,” Dolunt says.

The controversy over the facial recognition program was one of the things that led to contentious remarks being exchanged between Craig and Representative Rashida Tlaib over the technology and police reform. Tlaib has urged Craig to resign, saying he doesn't speak for Detroiters.

During protests by Detroit Will Breathe in 2020, Craig held press conferences and public appearances where he addressed police issues, including officer-involved shootings around the country.

“We met in the streets and sat down for a meeting and realized we have the same vision for safety and supporting the youth,” says community activist Pastor Maurice Hardwick, who often met with Craig during those protests.

Craig has developed a high profile during his time as Detroit's Chief, appearing on Fox News and being praised for inspiring actors like Denzel Washington in their roles as police officers. Craig and Washington met during a ride-along in Los Angeles.

Craig's possible political future is drawing reaction from both sides of the aisle in Lansing.

“Christmas came early for the Republican Party and we need common sense. That’s what the people want,” says Rep. Joe Bellino a Republican lawmaker representing Monroe.

“Yes, he’s been on a lot of local networks but outside of Detroit, millions of Michiganders don’t know who he is,” says Rep. Darrin Camilleri a Democratic lawmaker representing Brownstown Township.