James White named Detroit police chief after national search
James White has been named Detroit’s police chief after serving since June 1 as an interim replacement for James Craig who retired and is looking at a possible run at Michigan governor.
Mayor Mike Duggan announced Monday that the job now belongs to White pending approval by the City Council.
Duggan was given three candidates to consider by the Board of Police Commissioners following a national search.
White, 53, is the latest in the line of about a dozen Detroit chiefs since 1990. Several had been forced out amid allegations of wrongdoing.
He stepped down as chair of Michigan’s Civil Rights Commission to take over as interim chief.
“To have quit that, come back here on an interim basis knowing what he had to go through, going through the (interviewing) process like everybody else with the Board of Police Commissioners, I think it just shows how much he loves the city, how much he loves this department,” Duggan said.
White joined the city’s police force in 1996. During his career, he ran the Civil Rights Integrity Bureau and was a supervisor in the 6th Precinct before Craig appointed him assistant chief in 2013.
White left the police department in August 2020 to take the civil rights post.
White said in May that his top priorities would be fighting crime, with a particular focus on speeding, “drifting” and other traffic violations. He also said he would balance the need to uphold the law with citizens’ rights.
On Monday, he emphasized the importance of having a good relationship with Detroit residents.
“We need the community,” White told reporters. “Our community deserves excellence in policing. I’m going to support these officers, but I’m going to require that there is excellence and a drive toward excellence in policing.”
Craig announced in May that he was retiring after seven years as chief.
He was hired in 2013 by an emergency manager after the state assumed control of the financially broken city. Craig, who is Black and a native of the city, immediately set out to restore residents’ confidence in the Detroit Police Department, which had a history of civil rights abuses by officers against the city’s mostly Black population.
Last month, Craig announced the formation of an exploratory committee to look at a run for Michigan governor as a Republican.
Williams reported from West Bloomfield, Michigan.
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