Police Chief James Craig reflects on one year in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI - 9 News Anchor Brendan Keefe sat down for an interview with Police Chief James Craig.

The murder rate has dropped 27 percent since he became chief one year ago, and he has begun modernizing the department with a new uniform and a popular new work schedule for patrol officers.

But the chief has also been faced with questions from critics.

This is the interview excerpt that aired on 9 New at Six:

Chief Craig: "When I got here a year ago, I was welcomed by the rank and file. They were ready for change, eager for change. When I got here, here we are in 2012, and police officers would get in trouble for getting out of the car without their hat on. And I said, how about a police officer that gets out and does some great police work that we write them a commendation, 'job well done,' instead of writing them up for not wearing a hat. And they thing I kept hearing when I got here is that this department is ruled by fear and intimidation. James Craig can no make that up."

Brendan Keefe: "What are the challenges you faced in the last year, especially early on?"

Chief Craig: "Let's be candid, Cincinnati is a very closed placed, very parochial. I'm from a place called 'away' -- certainly when we get to the place where we talk about the certification exam, uh, when I read some of the blogs and some of the hateful things people would say from, 'Is he lazy? Is he afraid he's going to fail? Is he not smart?' But if someone with 36 years in this business who has demonstrated time and time again success, has gone on up through the ranks of one of the most challenging police agencies in this country, you know my training records exceed, far exceed, anything that the State of Ohio has in place. So when I hear statements about being lazy, that's offensive."

Brendan Keefe: "If the lowest ranking officer in the department has to be certified as a police officer in Ohio, why shouldn't the top commander?"

Chief Craig: "Absolutely...my predecessor didn't have to take it. We now have about 130 officers in this agency that have never taken the test. And the good decision was made, the right decision for both my predecessor, and those 130 that are still here today, that it was waived. But for some reason, I'm treated differently."

Brendan Keefe: "It's a distraction, isn't it? Has it been a distraction for you?"

Chief Craig: "I wouldn't call it a distraction, I'm moving forward."

Brendan Keefe: "Is it appropriate for a sitting police chief to appear in a television ad, even if you weren't paid, for a for-profit company, the University of Phoenix?"

Chief Craig: "Yes, and I'll say it three times, yes. That's more of this attitude of being from away, and I say to those who have a problem with it, again, get over that one too. Because I didn't get paid for it, and I did it out of my commitment to this city and to the profession."

Brendan Keefe: "What do you think of Cincinnati?"

Chief Craig: "I've talked to many people from places called 'away,' and they say, 'well you've got to understand that Cincinnati is not always welcoming.' But it's hard to not welcome a person who really is committed, I mean really committed, to changing the city in a positive way."

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