Detroit police chief, fire department union president spar over first responder safety

Police questioned over delayed response to murder scene

DETROIT – Detroit police Chief James Craig is firing back over criticism that his officers are too slow to respond to 911 calls.

That criticism comes from the firefighter's union president who said the slow response often puts firefighters at risk.

READDetroit police questioned over delayed response to murder scene

On a night the city of Detroit honors first-responders  for the "Above and Beyond Awards" behind the scenes are some unsettled matters between firefighters and officers.

"We need to police backup and we need to public safety on track here," Detroit Firefighters Association President Mike Nevin said.

Just one day after Nevin sounded the public safety alarm Craig is firing back.

"Inaccurate, inaccurate, I'm disappointed. First of all know all the facts before you jump out and start making statements," he said.

The firefighters union president claims that over the weekend Detroit police officers failed to respond to calls where firefighters were in harms way when emergency medical services arrived before police to a homicide on the city's west side.

"To make a statement like that is so wrong. I guess those same folks forget that this same city five years ago police stations were closed," Craig said. "Oh, we forget that. I didn't hear my union president make statements about problems associated with firefighters. I love the firefighters, they're my heroes as well so stay in  your lane and let us do what we do."

"To tell me to stay in my lane, well guess what partner, I'm in my lane and I'm going to keep driving and drive hard and fast," Nevin said.

Nevin insists that this isn't a one-time problem and that the lives of his union members are at stake.

Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said the current plan is working.

"We have scene safety policy and that policy is to stage and wait for police to get there. I'm confident our firefighters are safe," he said.

Jones acknowledges his first-responders go on dangerous runs, but he believes the firefighters are safe.

Nevin said the remedy is simple, the city needs more cops. 

About the Authors:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.