New Detroit Police Chief Favors Gun Ownership, Announces Declines in Crime
From The New American by Bob Adelmann, January 6, 2014
When Detroit’s new police chief, James Craig, took over on July 1 last year he made a strong declaration that crime was going to go down on his watch:
No longer will we stand idly by as criminals run rampant and the good citizens are held captive in their own homes.
Gone are the days that a citizen calls 911 and there is no response. Gone are the days that a citizen comes to a precinct only to find that the doors are locked.
We have taken an oath to protect our citizens and protect them is what we will do.
Dec. 17, 2013: Detroit Police Chief James Craig speaks with the media during Operation Mistletoe, a raid targeting drug dealers on Detroit’s west side. (AP/Detroit Free Press)
Six months later Craig reported that criminal homicides had dropped 14 percent from the previous year and that violent crime dropped 7 percent overall. This included decreases in aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, carjackings, burglaries, and stolen vehicles.
When interviewed on Detroit’s WJR radio station last week, Craig was asked by host Paul Smith about any instances in Detroit of the “knockout game,” as are being reported elsewhere. Craig responded:
I think folks — the people who would engage in that foolishness — probably know that there are a number of CPL (Concealed Pistol License) holders running around the streets of Detroit. [They] probably [conclude that that’s] not a real good idea.
When a surprised Smith pressed him on the CPL issue, Craig added:
I think it’s a deterrent. Good Americans with CPLs translates into crime reduction, too.
I learned that very quickly in the state of Maine [where there are] a lot of CPL holders.
Craig started his law-enforcement career in Detroit as a beat cop back in January 1977 before moving to the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) in 1981, where he spent the next 28 years working his way up the ladder. He became Portland, Maine’s chief of police in 2009, moved to Cincinnati in 2011 to take a similar position there, and then in July returned to Detroit as police chief.
He has come full circle on the issue of law-abiding citizens carrying guns: In Maine, initially he was disinclined to issue concealed weapons permits (called CCWs there — Carrying Concealed Weapon), and he let them pile up on his desk instead of allowing them to be issued. At a press conference on Thursday, Craig explained his change of heart:
Coming from California where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine where they give out lots of CCWs.
I had a stack of CCW permits [that] I was denying — that was my orientation.
I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.
One statistic that didn’t make the headlines nationally was the 40-percent decline in justifiable homicides that Detroit has enjoyed just since Craig’s arrival. A homicide is justified if it is done to prevent a very serious crime, such as rape, armed robbery, manslaughter, or murder, and most of those in the last year involved citizens who were defending themselves from criminal attacks by killing their attackers.
The reduction in violent crime is predictable, according to Doug Wyllie, editor of PoliceOne.com and author of a large poll involving more than 15,000 active or retired law-enforcement officers. These are “field-level law enforcers,” said Wyllie, “those who are face-to-face against violent crime on a daily basis” and reflect that street-level reality. When asked, “What would help the most in preventing large-scale shootings in public?” nearly 30 percent of those quizzed said that “more permissive concealed carry policies for civilians” would have the most impact. When asked, “Considering the particulars of recent tragedies like Newtown and Aurora, what level of impact do you think a legally-armed citizen could have made? Nearly 90 percent responded that “innocent casualties would likely have been [either] reduced or avoided [altogether].”
Contrary to what the mainstream media and certain politicians would have us believe, police overwhelmingly favor an armed citizenry, would like to see more guns in the hands of responsible people, and are skeptical of any greater restrictions placed on gun purchase, ownership, or accessibility.
It’s refreshing and encouraging to hear a “street-level” officer such as Detroit Chief of Police James Craig not only support private ownership of guns but to admit candidly that what he saw, with his own eyes, caused him to change his “orientation” on gun control. Although Detroit has a long way to go before it becomes peaceful and safe (it still has the same number of murders as New York City, a city with 11 times the population of Detroit), recognition of reality and the beginnings of a long-awaited and much-needed decline in crime statistics bodes well for Detroit’s citizens in the months and years to come.
Below From FoxNews.com – January 03, 2014
Detroit’s Police Chief has a solution to help drive down crime in one of the nation’s most dangerous cities: arm more citizens.
James Craig made the comments at a police press conference Thursday, when he announced a 7 percent drop in violent crime in 2013, The Detroit News reported. Although urban police typically favor gun control, Craig said his views evolved after working in Los Angeles and Maine, where concealed weapons permits are more easily obtained.
“I changed my orientation real quick,” Craig said. “Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”
Thursday’s comments echo statements Craig has made in the past, including those he made last month, when he said responsible citizens who carry concealed pistol licenses “translates into crime reduction.”
However, in the past, Craig has called for a ban on assault weapons, regulating high-capacity magazines, tighter restrictions on internet ammunition sales and more stringent background checks for firearm sales at gun shows, the Detroit News said.
At Thursday’s press conference, Craig announced that Detroit’s homicide rate last year was 47.5 per 100,000 residents, down from 55 the year before, the Detroit Free Press reported. Authorities added that there were 1,161 non-fatal shootings in the city, an 8 percent drop from 2012, along with decreases in aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, carjackings, burglaries and stolen vehicles. Larcenies rose, however.
Despite the drop, Detroit still recorded as many homicides as New York City – despite having a population that’s less than one-tenth the size of the Big Apple, the Free Press reported.
Below From The Detroit News by George Hunter, January 3, 2014
Detroit Police Chief: Legal Gun Owners Can Deter Crime
Detroit Police Chief James Craig (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News, file)
If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Thursday.
Urban police chiefs are typically in favor of gun control or reluctant to discuss the issue, but Craig on Thursday was candid about how he’s changed his mind.
“When we look at the good community members who have concealed weapons permits, the likelihood they’ll shoot is based on a lack of confidence in this Police Department,” Craig said at a press conference at police headquarters, adding that he thinks more Detroit citizens feel safer, thanks in part to a 7 percent drop in violent crime in 2013.
Craig said he started believing that legal gun owners can deter crime when he became police chief in Portland, Maine, in 2009.
“Coming from California (Craig was on the Los Angeles police force for 28 years), where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs (carrying concealed weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying; that was my orientation.
“I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”
Craig’s statements Thursday echoed those he made Dec. 19 on “The Paul W. Smith Show” on WJR (760 AM), when he said: “There’s a number of CPL (concealed pistol license) holders running around the city of Detroit. I think it acts as a deterrent. Good Americans with CPLs translates into crime reduction. I learned that real quick in the state of Maine.”
Robyn Thomas, director of the the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco, disagreed.
“I think at its core, his position is an emotional one, based on the idea that people feel safer when they have guns. But studies have shown more guns don’t deter crime,” Thomas said. “There’s no research that shows guns make anyone safer, and it does show that, the more guns in any situation, the higher the likelihood of them harming either the owner, or people who have access to them.”
Rick Ector of the Firearm Academy of Detroit, which teaches gun safety classes, said Craig’s comments are unusual for a police official.
“It’s a huge, radical departure for the police chief to say good people should have access to firearms,” said Ector. “I’m not ready to say he’s pro-gun just yet, but it’s vastly different from what police chiefs have said in the past.”
Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police director Robert Stevenson agreed.
“A lot of police officers have no problem at all with law-abiding citizens having guns,” Stevenson said.
“I think it’s probably like the citizenry: Some are for it, some are against it. But most police chiefs don’t want to talk about the subject.
“It’s a divisive issue, and a lot of times chiefs are reluctant to get in the middle of those debates. Gun control, the death penalty — most chiefs try to stay out of those discussions. Craig speaks his mind; you’ve got to give him credit for that.”
According to a March 2013 anonymous poll of 15,000 officers by the law enforcement website policeone.com., almost 90 percent of the respondents believed casualties would be decreased if armed citizens were present during shooting incidents, while more than 80 percent supported arming teachers who were trained with firearms.
Although Craig said more responsible gun owners would likely lower crime, in the past he also has called for a ban on assault weapons, regulating high-capacity magazines, tighter restrictions on Internet ammunition sales and more stringent background checks for merchants who sell firearms at gun shows.
Detroit police have reported 73 justifiable homicides in the city since 2011. The number in 2013 was 15, down from 25 the previous year.
Most of those cases involved citizens who defended themselves by killing criminals. Among them: 77-year-old Willie White, who in March 2012, fatally shot a man who’d broken into his northwest Detroit home.
Prior to the incident, White’s home had been broken into several times. The break-ins stopped after he killed the 18-year-old intruder, he said.
“I think these criminals would definitely think twice if they knew more citizens were armed,” White said. “I know it stopped them from breaking into my place.”