DETROIT, MI - When faced with an attempted carjacking of his unmarked squad car, Detroit Police Chief James Craig just drove away. As it turns out, there isn’t much that the police chief could have done. Why? The chief of police is not a certified police officer in the state of Michigan.
Relaying his story to a crowd of about 50 people at a community meeting about Detroit’s carjacking problem, Mr. Craig explained that he “accelerated out of harm’s way,” rather than arresting the suspect.
Because Mr. Craig is not certified as a police officer, he does not posses the same authority to detain suspects based on reasonable suspicion and make arrests based on probable cause. Therefore, he is limited to making citizens arrests, which, under Michigan law, require a felony to have been committed.
According to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, Mr. Craig was sent paperwork for obtaining the certification in July, when his tenure began, but has thus far failed to return it.
This isn’t the first time Mr. Craig ran into troubles with obtaining state certification. At his previous post as chief of police in Cincinnati, Mr. Craig made a request to be waived from taking the state officer certification tests. Although he was granted a waiver from the vast majority of the training requirements, Mr. Craig was not exempt from requirements relating specifically to Ohio law.
Rather than fulfilling these requirements, Mr. Craig filed a lawsuit arguing that the test was unfair to out-of-state chief candidates and that the amount of time he would have to devote to preparation would be better spent elsewhere. Ultimately, he dropped the lawsuit after accepting the position in Detroit.
As of last week, there have been 582 carjackings in Detroit this year.