Detroit police chief looks for revenge after fire union boss blows whistle

Detroit Police Chief James Craig in a previous press conference.

Detroit fire union boss Mike Nevin is facing potential criminal charges after he dared reveal that the city’s understaffed police department is ill-equipped to adequately tackle violet crime in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities.

Nevin, known for his brave, fierce independence from the city’s politicians, called out Chief Police James Craig after firefighters were forced to wait 20 to 40 minutes for cops to respond to the scene of a murder on the city’s west side after midnight on Nov. 23. As a result, police may have missed an opportunity to arrest the culprit.

The slow response time, which is a common problem, was chronicled in a blistering piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charlie LeDuff on Deadline Detroit.

It was nothing new in a city that can dish out hundreds of millions of dollars to billionaire developers and General Motors but can’t put more officers in the city’s most vulnerable, dangerous neighborhoods.

A day after the biting and relevant criticism, Craig angrily insisted the slow response time was “inaccurate” and “so wrong.”

“First of all know all the facts before you jump out and start making statements,” Craig fired back.

But the police chief didn’t stop there and found a way to make Nevin pay – a looming danger for any employee or contractor who challenges Mayor Duggan’s dubious narrative, peddled by the local and national media, that Detroit is in the middle of a renaissance and no longer struggles with basic, essential services.

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Perhaps unwisely, Nevin posted unredacted police reports online to show that he was not embellishing the slow response times and that the murderer may have been captured if cops had responded more quickly.

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Craig, who has been accused of manipulating recent violent crime data, believes Nevin may have obstructed justice by failing to redact the cell phone number and first name of the potential witness of the murder. He has directed Internal Affairs to investigate, which may ask the county prosecutor to file charges that could cost Nevin his job and freedom.

“The police are trying to silence a public servant who is blowing the whistle,” Nevin’s attorney Mike Rataj told LeDuff. “The brass is lying about response times and my client is trying to protect his members and the public.” 

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Nevin, who has worked tirelessly to provide more protection for firefighters and the public, is holding a press conference at 10 a.m. today.

We’ll air the presser live on Facebook.

Steve Neavling

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.