America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 73

Detroit's James Craig
from page 35

actually started before I arrived here.
So it refutes the notion that I'm
inciting vigilantism. That's far from the
truth. When you look at Detroit, I'm
happy to report we are driving crime
down, and certainly the Detroit Police
Department is doing a phenomenal job
arresting the right people.
a1f: What do you say to people who
suggest more civilian ownership of guns
creates more problems?
Craig: Well, I say to them that every
person has a right to protect themselves
or their family from harm-from danger.
Everyone has that right. This is not about
inciting vigilantism, because in my view
when you talk about vigilantism, you're
talking about someone who has made
a decision to do law enforcement's
job-go out and enforce the law. This is
not that at all. This is about self-defense,
protection, an imminent threat to life,
very different response. So I say, let's
talk about the victims; let's talk about
the number of violent criminals in
possession of guns. Let's focus on that.
a1f: Do you think the requirements
to carry a handgun are too hard, too
easy or just right?
Craig: I think it's set up for
responsible Americans. Many of our
officers-and this is not something I've
seen before-but probably 50 percent of
our officers are also cpl holders. I find
that interesting. But as police officers,
they go through the same check as any
other American who wants to purchase
and carry a weapon. They're not exempt
from it. So I think that the current laws
in Michigan are good. It makes a great
effort to weed out those who should not
possess a weapon.
a1f: Why don't more police chiefs
share your perspective?
Craig: I'm not certain of that.
I'm sure there's some who disagree.
This is not about pushing more guns
in the streets, therefore making our
neighborhoods and communities
unsafe. My view is we should keep the
guns out of the hands of the criminal,
period. We're talking about good,
responsible Americans, and they're not
the issue. They're not out committing
carjackings or burglaries or home

invasions or street robberies. We're
talking about a small group, a minority.
I believe our focus should be on how to
keep guns out of hands of criminals and
those who aren't responsible.
I ask this question of my critics:
"What do you think about criminals
who possess firearms illegally?" Of
course, the response generally is, "Well
you should take them to jail." Well
that's fine, but they (other criminals)
still possess the guns, they're still
out committing robberies. In the
meantime, what do you do for victims
and potential victims? What do you
do for the mother alone with her
children? How do you protect her?
That's how I change the dialogue and
focus on the real issue. The issue isn't
more guns; it's more guns in the hands
of criminals.
a1f: Officers are obviously limited in
their ability to respond to a 9-1-1 call or
rush to the scene. Should citizens always
rely on the police for protection?
Craig: Well, first of all when I
arrived here nine months ago, it's no
secret that when it came to response
time, we were recognized as having
a 50-minute response time to some
emergency calls. That has changed.
We set a goal for 2014 to respond
to high-priority 9-1-1 calls in five
minutes. We haven't reached that as
of yet, but we're averaging between
eight and 11 minutes.
That said, whether five minutes
or seven minutes, the issue is simple.
You know, if a citizen is in danger-an
immediate threat to life-even if the
officer can get there, and even if the
community member has the opportunity
to contact police, as we all know if
there's an imminent threat to life,
it happens in an instant. At some
point, are you going to ask this violent
predator, "Can you wait a few minutes
so I can make this 9-1-1 call?" It's
just like an officer confronted with an
imminent threat to their life. Certainly
we want our officers to notify dispatch
and seek backup when confronted with
a dangerous situation, but sometimes
it happens in an instant and an officer
has to respond. It's certainly not saying
we can't do our job; it's saying we can't
be on every block, every corner, every

minute of the day to be able to respond
in seconds when someone is confronted
with a dangerous situation.
a1f: How do you get the message to
citizens-or criminals-about civilian
self-defense?
Craig: The message is out there
[now]. The people of Detroit have
come to me in droves to thank me
for taking this stand. But you know,
there's a lot of responsibility that comes
with that. I don't support vigilantism,
but I do support good Americans
and self-protection and self-defense.
I promote that. I support that. I don't
see why anyone wouldn't, and it's a
constitutionally protected right. This
is not a James Craig law. It's the law of
the land.
a1f: How has your stance toward guns
and gun control evolved over the years?
Craig: I spent 28 years with the Los
Angeles Police Department. I always
tell this story because it's kind of an
interesting one, but it's no secret that
in Southern California it takes an act of
Congress to get a concealed weapons
permit. That was my orientation; that's
the way things were. I didn't give much
thought to it.
And then I go to Maine and am
greeted within my first couple of days
in office as police chief with a stack of
ccw permits on my desk. Based on my
orientation, I began to deny each and
every one of them until my staff came
in and said "Whoa Chief! This is Maine,
and we love our guns. And if you
haven't noticed, it's a safe city." I started
to reflect on that. I took the response of
my staff seriously and really reflected
and realized: "Great point." That's when
my orientation really began to change.
a1f: Where do you see Detroit in
20 years?
Craig: I believe that Detroit,
because of the resilience and the
can-do attitude of people who live
here, that Detroit will regain its luster.
It will be one of these premier cities.
The Detroit Police Department is
becoming one of the more premier
law enforcement agencies in this
country because it's fighting against
the challenges that most agencies
don't have to deal with. The city is in
bankruptcy-certainly our staffing
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America's First Freedom - June 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - June 2014

America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 1
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 2
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 3
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 4
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 5
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 6
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 7
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 8
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 9
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 10
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America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 13
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America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 28
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America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 35
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