City manager announces James Craig as next police chief

James Craig (Source: Portland Police)
James Craig (Source: Portland Police)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - City Manager Milton Dohoney has announced James Craig as the next police chief of the city of Cincinnati.

Craig is the current chief of the Portland, Maine Department and a 27-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department.

He beat out over 40 applicants for the position, which was vacated by former chief Tom Streicher, who retired.

Craig is the first black police chief to be named in Cincinnati, and the first hired from outside the department. Voters approved Issue 5, a ballot issue allowing the outside hiring of chiefs and assistant chiefs, after race riots in 2001. The change was promoted as a way to change the culture of the police department.

Craig has held his current position as the Chief of Police in Portland, ME since 2009.  While in Portland, a city of about 65,000 residents and a sworn staff of 215, Craig developed the department's first strategic plan and reorganized the department to improve both efficiency and effectiveness.

He was born in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Cass Technical High School and later began his undergraduate studies at the University of Detroit-Mercy (formally Mercy College). It was in Detroit where he started his 31-year law enforcement career joining the Detroit Police Department in June 1977.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1981. It was there he advanced from Police Officer to Captain III, the rank he held when he retired in 2009.

Craig also has experience at the supervisory and management levels of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), where he served for 28 years. From 2002 to 2009, he served as the Commanding Officer (CO) of the West, Southwest, and Southeast areas and over the Patrol, Juvenile, and Operations Support Division of the Department.  He has overseen 390 sworn and civilian personnel and a $42 million budget.

He implemented effective strategies to sustain crime reduction efforts over a three year period in the Southwest area, reducing violent crime by 27 percent, property crime by 21 percent, part I crime by 23 percent, homicide by 22 percent, and shooting victims by 31 percent. Under Craig's leadership, a year-long joint LAPD/FBI operation targeted a local gang that culminated in warrants served in 22 locations.

Craig has served as commander for such large events as BET Awards Show, the Emmys, and the spontaneous eruptions that accompanied Lakers championships

Captain Craig was awarded the first Police Presidential Scholarship where he attended West Coast University, completing a Bachelors of Science in Business Management in 1995. In 1998, he completed the 193rd Session of the FBI National Academy and was also selected to attend a ten-week workshop on diversity conducted by Loyola Marymount University.

He is a member of and past president of the Oscar Joel Bryant Foundation, an African-American Los Angeles police officers association. He is also a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Los Angeles Women Police Officers Association, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Craig was named after the search was narrowed to four finalists, including two internal candidates, Vince DiMasi and James Whalen.

Dohoney said DiMasi and Whalen both expressed that they are excited to work with Craig.

"Chief Craig is a stand-out candidate," said Dohoney.  "When I looked at his wide-ranging and successful experience as a front line commander, his executive management skills, and proven commitment to partnership and community building, I was confident choosing him as Chief. He believes in and will advance the principles of community oriented policing. He has a track record of using the latest technologies and police practices that will help meet Cincinnati's complex challenges, and he will bring his drive for results to better the department and the community."

Craig was selected as part of a process that began in January of this year when City Manager Dohoney issued a survey of citizens to gather the attributes that were important to them in a Chief of Police.

He also conducted focus groups with representatives from various segments of the community to ascertain their opinions.  From those responses, a position description and recruitment brochure was released nationally.

At Dohoney's invitation, five community members worked with city staff in reviewing applications for the position. This screening committee narrowed the pool from 43 to six candidates who received in-person interviews with the committee.

Dohoney and the committee narrowed the list to four candidates who received interviews with the City Manager. The final hiring decision of Chief Craig was solely City Manager Dohoney's.

Dohoney said Craig will begin in about a month. He will be overseeing the police department of 1,057 sworn personnel.

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