MiWeek Clip | Nolan Finley and James Craig: A different take on civility

Posted by MiWeek on

The MiWeek team took to the Detroit Policy Conference floor last week to talk with lawmakers, public safety officials, and community stakeholders about civility. Nolan Finley spoke with Detroit Police Chief James Craig about his take on what civility means:


Full Transcript Below:

NOLAN FINLEY: Thanks for joining us on MiWeek. You're here and will be on stage later talking about civility, the theme of the day. You have a different take on civility. You think that before we can get to civility, people have to start being civil on a lot of issues.

CHIEF JAMES CRAIG: Respectful, balanced. We need to get away from the knee jerk reactions. Take one small comment and run with it and we lose out on the true meaning of it is; we don't try to understand.

FINLEY: You were hit with that this week as you suggested that you support arming some school teachers in schools and right away you were roundly condemned for that position.

CRAIG: Some condemned, always I put emphasis on some condemned. Without anyone trying to seek understanding, we talk about former military. Former law enforcement who are now teachers who can be another layer of security. That's just one part of the issue. We're not just talking about arming teachers and they come in with their lesson plans at the beginning of the day we hand them a firearm. That's ridiculous. When people react to those things without trying to understand because I understand I'm battling with sound bites and I understand it but it wasn't something that was reactionary. Not the only thing. The most important thing is how we address the mentally ill. How are we dealing with that issue? Because there's a nexus to all of these things. What are we doing about communication? Are we communicating? You know the whole thing, see something, say something. We see the failures in Florida. Then once we say something, how is law enforcement responding? Are we responding timely?

FINLEY: You also called out some of our political class for their selective outrage. You lost a lot of officers and around the country we lost a lot of police officers to gun violence. Is that something you're insensitive to?

CRAIG:  I'm not. Let me say this. I'm disappointed. Now, first of all, now the governor of this great state, the attorney general, the mayor of the city of Detroit, certainly the city council president and members, who when we are faced with these tragedies, they’ve been up front in support. Then you get others U.S. representatives, state representatives that have said absolutely nothing. Then when they see a statement they perceive to be reckless, now all of a sudden that is wrong. How about denouncing the violence directed toward police officers? We hear very little about that from those individuals. But they're ready to lay down and protest when they think an officer used force unnecessarily.

FINLEY: So, Chief, you've been very open in your support of legally owning weapons of self-defense.

CRAIG: I was on the cover of the NRA magazine in 2014. Predates the President’s tenure and his candidacy.

FINLEY: What do we do about illegal guns in the city? What is the answer to keep guns out of the hands of people that shouldn't have them or have them illegally?

CRAIG: That's the answer. Instead of talking solely about gun control, can we talk about crime control? As you point out, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, keeping guns out of the hands of those suffering from mental illness--that's the answer. The gun by itself is not a killing machine. It's who has possession. We need to focus on that we really need to drill down and find better ways especially when you talk about the mental illness. I think that’s a big challenge for the country because we’re not responding to the mentally ill, we’re not addressing the mentally ill, and then when someone goes out and purchases a weapon, where are the flags at? We know the incident in Florida that young man had in excess of I’m told either 40 or 80 contacts with police. Would it have been easy for those contacts to be embedded in a database so when he went to purchase weapons, the flags come up. And that’s what needs to happen.

FINLEY: Chief, you’re right here talking at a business conference with business people. Business people in this community have been instrumental in your crime fighting effort through the Green Light program. How is that program working and what do you envision for it next?

CRAIG: Well, it’s beyond my wildest expectations I will tell you that the businesses have lined up, they’ve become partners to not only law enforcement but they’ve been good neighbors. I mean we have Green Light a corridor in Greektown, we have strip malls that are signing up, all voluntary. We know we’ve seen a reduction in violence both robberies and car jackings because as I pointed out earlier in my tenure that these were locations where crimes were happening.

One Detroit - Four million people. One story.

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