New Cincinnati Police Chief talks city issues

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

(FOX19) - FOX19 spoke directly with newly named Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig Tuesday about his reaction to being hired to fill retired Chief Tom Streicher's shoes. "It's a great city, a major city, but a city where I feel like I'm going home," Craig said of Cincinnati.

While he may have found a new home in Cincinnati, Craig will be bringing with him an outsider's advantage. "Sometimes when you grow up in an organization you don't see the cracks in the ceiling, the graffiti on a wall that's been in a place forever," Craig argued. "The advantage with an outside perspective is I see those things."

Craig says he is planning to use his perspective to make a thorough evaluation of the department and its effectiveness. "I need time to get in quickly, talk to the men and woman, talk with the union officials to understand the issues inside the organization," Craig said.

The issues outside of the department in the community at large will also top his priority list. "There are certainly some challenges the city's facing in terms of violent crime," Craig acknowledged. "What's important for me right now as I start to transition into the new command is how we stem the tide of violence, that's so critical."

He says he is also well versed in the city's recent history of racial tensions culminating in the race riots ten years ago. "I know about the riots, I know that there's a collaborative, I know that there's a consent decree. These are things that are not unfamiliar to me," Craig said.

He says his time in Los Angeles was a training ground for how to best deal with race relations. Even growing up watching the Detroit Police Department has given him a great deal of insight. "They got it right early because they knew they needed to build relationships in the minority communities," Craig said.

Craig knows he will have to hit the ground running as soon as he steps into his new role in the queen city next month. "I have my work cut out for me," Craig admitted. "But I need to do it quickly, methodically, and again I'm excited and confident that we're going to do some great things together."

He says he plans stay visible and available not only within the walls of the department, but out in the community as well. "I like to lead from the front, from the back, and from the side," Craig said. "Certainly I'm not the kind of person that [wants to be on TV] just for the sake of being on television or being in the news … that's not my style. It is my style to market the police department, educate the community, [and] be very transparent."

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