America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 35

" I understand the pandemic, but
candidly, this police department
didn't close, " Craig said. " We're still
on seven days a week, providing
safety. We have to make the arrests,
but the rest of the system has to
work, too, and if it's broken or dysfunctional,
it'll have a direct impact
on violent crime. "
But, says Craig, " it's not about
blaming, I'm not bashing all prosecutors
or judges. I recognize
staffing plays a role and we work
independently of one another.
Our prosecutor is charging probably
75%, which is decent. But, at
the end of the day, if we all want to
reduce violence, we have to work
for our communities. "
Prosecutors say that sometimes
it's a question of triage. Not only
have Wayne County prosecutors
lost some 50 attorneys during the
pandemic, but they're often inundated
by cases they think are a
higher priority than gun charges.
" I'm not saying these are cases
we should not pay attention to; they
are, " Wayne County Prosecutor
Kym Worthy told the Detroit News.
" But when we look at a scale with
homicides, sexual assaults, armed
robberies, child abuse, elder abuse,
domestic violence, car jackings and
we look at some of our major cases,
we have to figure out how we are
going to try all of these cases. "
To fix this, they're creating a special
court docket to clear a backlog
of concealed-weapons arrests
that is thousands deep and growing.
" We've never really seen this
amount of gun cases in our court, "
William McConico, the judge for
the 36th district who's presiding
over the docket, told the press. " We
don't want cases just to languish
behind other cases. "
Officials are also partnering with
federal authorities to target crime.
The Department secured grants to
hire more officers, and, last year,
Detroit became part of " Operation
Legend " (later called " Relentless
Pursuit " ), an initiative launched by
the Department of Justice under
President Trump to target violent
" It's even more
important now that
law-abiding citizens
be armed. "
-James Craig
crime and illegal guns. Named after
a young boy killed in a shootout,
the operation brought an influx of
resources to target crime, including
money to hire a half-dozen prosecutors
and dozens of field agents to
address violent crimes.
Matthew Schneider, the former
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern
District of Michigan who oversaw
the project, bulked up the department
during his tenure by hiring 40
assistant U.S. attorneys and overseeing
federal prosecutions. He
told A1F that federal prosecutors
often have more resources and can
obtain harsher penalties for federal
violations, but he also agrees there's
some degree of futility in thinking
gun laws will prevent crime.
" I don't think more laws are the
solution, " says Schneider. " The
criminals aren't going to follow
these laws; they buy guns on the
street. I know gangs that exchange
guns, commit a crime and then
ship a gun to another location.
These people aren't going through
the proper channels at all. It's an
underground market. You can pass
any number of laws and people are
still going to break them. "
Gun shows aren't the problem, he
says. " I've prosecuted hundreds of
gun crimes and supervised thousands
more. I've never in my career
as a prosecutor heard of a case of a
defendant that got his gun from a
gun show. That's just not where the
guns come from. "
Schneider shares Chief Craig's
concern about not locking up
violent offenders. " There's a shift
in focus, " he says, " where people
charged with gun crimes were
taken off the street and put in
prison so they weren't a danger
to the community. The focus now
seems not to be incarceration. The
problem is, there are dangerous people
who need to be off the street. "
Schneider says the programs he
oversaw were " absolutely successful "
and points to decreases in homicides,
violent crime and nonfatal
shootings.
Chief Craig says the combined
efforts are making a difference.
" I'm not taking a victory lap, " he
acknowledges. " But it's helping. Our
overall crime is down. When you
look at other cities, they've had more
substantial spikes. Because of 2020,
all the major cities have seen some
spikes, but overall our crime here is
better. We still need the rest of the
justice system to work effectively. It
can't just be police. "
Motor City hasn't always done
things perfectly. Gun owners have
had to file suit due to prolonged
delays with concealed-pistol-license
processing. Privacy advocates are
concerned the ShotSpotter devices
and social-media monitoring are
too invasive. And critics note the
department has a controversial policy
of arresting everyone in a car
once an illegal gun is found. It's
one of many fine lines the department
and Chief Craig have had to
walk between enforcement, privacy
and security.
Craig made headlines seven years
ago, when his vocal support for
concealed carry-as well as being
featured on the cover of this magazine-drew
the ire of gun-control
advocates. Has his opinion changed
since then?
" It has not, " Craig said. " It's no
secret this has been the most-challenging
time in the police profession,
and with a lot of conversation
about defunding and dismantling
the police, it's even more important
now that law-abiding citizens
be armed. "
When he interviewed with us for
this article, Craig was hours away
from retiring as chief, amid rumors
he would run for governor of Michigan
against Democrat Gretchen
Whitmer. Time will tell whether
these rumors are true.
america's 1st freedom I september 2021 35

America's First Freedom - September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - September 2021

Contents
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Cover1
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Cover2
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 1
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - Contents
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 3
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 4
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 5
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 6
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 7
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 8
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 9
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 10
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 11
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 12
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 13
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 14
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 15
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 16
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 17
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 18
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 19
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America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 21
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 22
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America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 25
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 26
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 27
America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 28
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America's First Freedom - September 2021 - 35
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