The Man Who Kept the Peace in Detroit


This isn’t Motor City, it’s Murder City, as critics have quipped for years. Its violent-crime rate in 2019 was the highest among major U.S. cities. Add poverty and its history of raw race relations, and it looked combustible in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Instead, Detroit proved an exemplar.

While Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and other cities burned, Detroit’s protests remained remarkably peaceful. The city saw minor skirmishes between demonstrators and officers, but neither police nor the Detroit Regional Chamber, a business group, can list a single incident of protest-related looting or arson.

Much credit goes to James Craig, the city’s police chief from 2013 until his retirement last month. He refused to tolerate political violence. He had cultivated deep relationships with the black community and political and civic leaders. He drew on this network to defuse tensions and protect Detroit.

Mr. Craig’s police career began here and took him to Los Angeles, Portland, Maine; and Cincinnati. A Republican, he is contemplating a challenge to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2022.

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