Michigan civil rights director named interim Detroit police chief

May 17, 2021, 2:02 PM by  Violet Ikonomova

White at a Monday news conference.

Former assistant Detroit police chief James White, who left the department last year to head the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, will return to take over for Chief James Craig on an interim basis in June.

Mayor Mike Duggan named Craig's temporary replacement at a news conference Monday, though indicated White could become a permanent fixture should "his future performance" look "anything like his career." Craig is leaving as he considers running for governor as a Republican.

White was appointed Civil Rights director in August 2020. He joined the department in 1996 and is credited with helping it implement reforms that closed the curtain on more than a decade of federal oversight in 2016.

White said his primary focus would be addressing the city's soaring crime rate. Duggan called the situation "not acceptable" and said "we need to hit the ground running."

Asked what he would do differently than his predecessor, White did not provide specifics but said he would "move the organization forward" while drawing upon lessons learned from Craig.

Members of the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners — including some who opposed Craig — support the pick. A permanent relplacement will be selected by the mayor from a list provided to the board by an outside firm. White said he intends to compete for the job.

A born-and-raised Detroiter, White on Monday described a turbulent upbringing in which he bounced between homes and lost a father figure to homicide. As he climbed the ranks within the department, he obtained his Masters in Business Administration and license as a mental health counselor.

The soon-to-be chief named Deputy Chief Todd Bettison his number two. Bettison replaces Lashinda Stair, who recently announced her retirement from the department after 25 years.

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