Cincinnati to begin search for new police chief
Cincinnati to begin search as police chief announces plans to leave for Detroit department
The city will begin a search for a new police chief after the current top cop announced that he is leaving for Detroit after two years on the job and while the department is bracing for layoffs.
James Craig's resignation as Cincinnati's police chief goes into effect June 22, but City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. said the search for his replacement will begin immediately and could take most of the summer.
Read: Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig announces he's accepted chief job in Detroit
"We will look for the best man or woman available in America that is the right fit for our department," Dohoney said, adding that the No. 1 goal will be to continue reducing crime in Cincinnati.
"I'll get who I'm looking for," Dohoney said.
Between 2010 and 2012, Cincinnati saw a 15 percent drop in violent crime, from 3,428 violent crimes in 2010 to 2,901 last year, according to department statistics.
Craig, who served with police departments in Detroit, Los Angeles and Portland, Maine, was the first police chief in Cincinnati to be recruited from outside the department, a fact that Dohoney and Mayor Mark Mallory said does not affect who his replacement will be.
"The best person may be here in Avondale," said Mallory, referring to a Cincinnati neighborhood. "Or the best person may be in Avondale, Ariz."
They said impending layoffs at the department won't affect their ability to recruit quality candidates because most police departments across the country have experienced or will experience layoffs.
Craig was hired from outside the department after Cincinnati voters approved a ballot issue promoted as a way to change the city's police culture. The department's practices came under intense scrutiny after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer sparked race riots in 2001.
When Craig came to Cincinnati, he met with rank-and-file officers who told him that the department was led by a culture of fear and intimidation. He then began chipping away at a "hierarchical bureaucratic structure" by reorganizing leadership and reducing management ranks.
The effect, city leaders say, is boosted morale among officers.
Craig said leaving those officers is the hardest part of moving on to Detroit.
"This has been almost like a fairy tale," he said. "I came in here as an outsider and I heard all these things about Cincinnati being so parochial and not always welcoming of outsiders. And I'll tell you these officers embraced me from Day One because I listened."
Craig began his police career in Detroit but was laid off in 1981 and moved to the Los Angeles Police Department, where his 28 years of experience included serving during the 1992 riots that began after four officers were acquitted of nearly all charges in the videotaped beating of Rodney King.
In Maine, Craig led a police department of about 200 officers from 2009 until he took over in Cincinnati.
Craig said he is returning to his hometown of Detroit to be with family, but also to take on new challenges in troubled city that saw homicides jump by 12 percent from 2011 to 2012.
"I know that we will turn that around," Craig said. "This is not something I think, it's something I know."
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