Detroit Police Chief James Craig is becoming an influential figure in the gun-rights movement after encouraging law-abiding residents earlier this year to defend themselves with guns.
Most recently, Craig was featured on the cover of the June 2014 edition of America’s First Freedom, an NRA magazine, showing his support for the second-amendment. In it, he is photographed in an abandoned section of the city, striking a stoic pose.
Highlights of the interview:
Observations after becoming Detroit’s police chief:
“There were two things I saw coming in the door that were unique: It wasn’t always uncommon that suspects would be wearing body armor during the commission of a crime, and/or secondly suspects directing victims to disrobe. And the reason for both was to determine whether or not the victim was armed. I found it odd, having worked in other large cities where I didn’t see it, not at this level of frequency.
On self-defense shootings in Detroit:
“So this trend actually started before I arrived here. So it refutes the notion that I’m inciting vigilantism. That’s far from the truth. When you look at Detroit, I’m happy to report we re driving crime down, and certainly the Detroit Police Department is doing a phenomenal job arresting the right people.”
On improving Detroit’s response time:
“When I arrived here nine month ago, it’s no secret that when it came to response time, we were recognized as having a 50-minute response time to some emergency calls. That has changed. We set a goal for 2014 to respond to high priority 911 calls in five minutes. We haven’t reached that as of yet, but we’re averaging been 8 and 11 minutes.
On denying concealed gun permits after becoming chief of police in Portland, Maine:
“I began to deny each and every one of them until my staff came in and said, “Whoa Chief! This is Maine, and we love our guns. And if you haven’t noticed, it’s a safe city.” I started to reflect on that. I took the response of my staff seriously and really reflected and realized, “Great point.” That’s when my origination began to change.”
On Detroit in 20 years:
“I believe that Detroit, because of the resilience and can-do attitude of people who live here, that Detroit will regain its luster. It will be one of our premier cities.”
Statements in support of gun rights:
“I believe responsible, good Americans have a right to protect themselves from an immediate threat to their life or to the life of another.”
“I believe our focus should be on how to keep guns out of hands of criminals and those who aren’t responsible.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.