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Detroit chief's support for Trump orders raises eyebrows

detroit police car
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has signaled his support for President Trump’s law enforcement policies, raising some eyebrows around Detroit.

Craig spoke about Trump’s recent pro-police executive orders with Neil Cavuto on Fox News last week.

The orders emphasize strict, if vague, “law and order” policies and cracking down on “out of control” crime. (In fact, violent crime nationwide is at near-historic lows, though there have been recent spikes in a few cities).

“Over the last eight years, America has suffered from a declining focus on law and order. Crime reduction will be a White House priority,” one reads.

Another orders Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “prosecute criminals who target law enforcement officers to the fullest extent of the law, and recommend new laws to protect those who dedicate themselves to safeguarding our communities.”

Craig told Cavuto he’s “excited by the change” in emphasis, which he called “well overdue.” He said there had been too much focus on police abuses, which hurt morale.

“When the morale goes down, and police officers don’t feel supported, certainly violent crime is not being adequately addressed,” Craig said.

Craig said law enforcement deserves “unwavering support,” coupled with transparency and accountability to the community. He noted that his department has lost two officers in recent months, one to a shooting and another to a hit-and-run.

Craig’s stance has surprised and angered some people in Detroit, a city that spent more than a decade under federal oversight for abusive police practices.

Kenneth Reed, head of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said he was troubled and “taken aback” by Craig’s comments.

“We know what comes with the law and order mantra,” Reed said, citing aggressive “stop-and-frisk” policies that have been found unconstitutional.

“We need to go forward. We definitely don’t need to go backward,” Reed said. “We need protect and serve from our officers. Not command and control and abuse.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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