Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig to leave Queen City for Detroit position

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig will leave the Queen City for a job as the chief of police in Detroit, he announced in a news conference Tuesday.

Craig ended months of speculation Tuesday when he confirmed he is leaving his position for the top cop job in Detroit, his hometown. Craig's last day as police chief in Cincinnati is June 22, 2013. Paul Humphries, the second-in-command for the department, will serve as the interim chief after Craig's departure.

During Tuesday's conference, Mayor Mark Mallory commended Craig for his accomplishments in a short timeframe and said he was honored to have Craig as a leader in the city.

"I know you're going to serve with distinction in Detroit as you served with distinction here," Mallory said.

On Monday, in the interview with 9 On Your Side and wearing a Detroit baseball cap, he spoke in past tense, saying: "Together [with the police department], we did wonderful things, we reduced crime, and we started working with our youth community very successfully. I'm just excited we've done well. I love the city of Cincinnati."

Craig's decision comes after Detroit media reported for the second time over the last four weeks that his departure from Cincinnati was imminent. The latest came on May 5 when a Detroit News column, citing unidentified sources, said Craig has been picked to be the next police chief.

Kathy Herrell, FOP president, said Craig called her Monday evening. She didn't elaborate on their conversation but did say that "she isn't surprised" because Detroit is home for Craig.

Craig, 56, leaves the department after a little less than two years, and departs as the only external hire and black chief of police in Cincinnati's history. Craig interviewed for the Detroit position in 2010, before becoming Cincinnati's 13th chief in August 2011.



He confirmed several weeks ago that he had been talking with city leaders in Detroit again. And just two weeks ago intimated that he would likely leave if offered the job.

Details of his compensation in Detroit were not immediately available.

By most accounts his tenure – albeit short – was a success. But it was not without controversy. When he assumed command, Craig audited the department, and took a top-to-bottom approach to make the department more efficient. Several city council members circulated a petition to try and keep him here when rumors first circulated that he might be interested in a job elsewhere.

Last month, city Councilman Christopher Smitherman along with PG Sittenfeld and Charlie Winburn, all of which are on council's public safety committee, circulated a motion that Dohoney "immediately consider retaining" Craig "for the great and excellent work he has done."

Perhaps the most visible change he made was changing the color of the uniform from white to blue and allowing officers to not wear their white hats. But inside the rank and file, his impact was vast. He pushed for electronic record keeping, using statistics to fight crime with brains and not brawn and to begin to change the authoritative top-down culture that once ruled the department.

"He's in the community physically," City Councilman Wendell Young said last week, a former police officer. "His officers appear to have a different attitude about themselves and their work. I see a lot more pride in the way they conduct themselves.

"I hear fewer complaints about our police officers."

The Craig Audit

The Craig audit streamlined the department's budget and communication among different units. Then police chief of staff, Paul Humphries, now the executive assistant chief, helped administer the audit.

The audit also created a Citizen's Advisory Board, which Craig meets with on a monthly basis to discuss policy, strategy and police effectiveness, according to the audit's summary of recommendations.                             

The audit also established a "downtown" district, or what is now known as the Central Business District, commanded by a captain to accommodate "Cincinnati's conference and tourist activity as well as the new casino." Event planning and related units fall under the CBD captain's command. Currently, Captain Kim Janke serves as the CBD commander.

And perhaps the two biggest changes as a result of the audit affected record keeping and the department's culture.

The audit points out that many of the records in the homicide unit were maintained in paper form and "the lack of technology available to the Homicide Unit is substantial." Auditors found that supervision of cases occur through a combination of oral communication and a review of the officer's log. There was no computer-based software case management. Under Craig's command, various divisions in the department – perhaps most notably the homicide unit – moved their records to electronic form. Doing so increased efficiency and the management of cases.

For years, the department followed an "absolute and fairly authoritarian" management style, the audit stated. Furthermore, the audit determined the department to be top-heavy. As a result, Craig restructured his command staff and deployed 50 more officers to the patrol unit, adding boots on the ground.

Community Policing Strategies

The establishment of more robust community policing strategies is perhaps the most signature change of Craig's short tenure. Craig, with City Council's help, reinforced the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence. Originally established following the 2001 riots, the program didn't really get the support it deserved until Craig pushed for it.

"This is not a police thing," Craig said in August 2011. "This is a community thing. I've called on church leaders, educators, professionals in my field to come together and let's make a difference."

Craig helped expand the Citizens on Patrol program following his "Call to Action" in Avondale in Spring 2012. The Call came in response to a shooting which left five teens injured. Craig made the call urging community leaders to use their influence to help stop the violence.

While the Citizens on Patrol program had been in Cincinnati since 1997, on June 7, 2012, the Avondale branch conducted its first patrol.

"I am most impressed with the Citizens on Patrol from other neighborhoods who made a commitment to walk in this neighborhood to give back to Avondale," Craig said outside the Avondale Community Pride Center on June 7, 2012.

Fighting Crime Using Up-to-Date Statistics

Craig also implemented Compstat, a data-driven crime tool, which facilitates timely analysis of crime data used to identify patterns and problems. Cincinnati police can deploy officers to high-crime areas based on the data provided.

Further, the Craig introduced the STARS program, or Strategic & Tactical Analytic Review for Solutions. It's a weekly breakdown of crime data by district so commanders can view updated statistics for specific neighborhoods.

After his first full year in command in 2012, total violent crimes were down 15 percent from the previous year; homicides were down 26 percent; and total property crimes were down 4 percent, according to the year-end STARS report.

Relationship With the Police Union

In stark contrast to his predecessor former Chief Tom Streicher, Craig has made strides to bridge the divide between management and labor. Before he was even sworn in, Craig contacted Fraternal Order of Police President Kathy Harrell to get a sense of what officers faced on a daily basis.

"He wanted to know what important to the rank and file in the Cincinnati police," Harrell said on Friday.

Within eight weeks, police officers received new work schedules of 10 hours per day, four days per week.

"In eight weeks, we were able to get a different schedule change in our work schedule, which we hadn't been able to negotiate with the city of the past chiefs in over 20-something years," Harrell said.

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