CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - After less than two years in Cincinnati, Police Chief James Craig is leaving the Queen City for his hometown of Detroit.
The official announcement was made during a press conference on Tuesday morning at City Hall. The resignation will be effective June 22.
Craig has committed to staying in the Queen City to be there for officers when anticipated cuts going into effect in early June.
"We're facing possible layoffs and in support for the men and women I want to physically be here on that day because it's that important," Craig said.
"He certainly will be missed," said City Manager Milton Dohoney. "Under the tenure of Chief Craig, crime went down in the city. You'd have to call his time here a success."
Assistant Chief Paul Humphries has been appointed interim chief and will help lead the department during the layoff process.
"I have a very good working relationship with Kathy Harrell, the union president," he said Tuesday. "We're going to be working through a lot."
When asked whether he will be applying for the top cop position, Humphries would not comment.
"Today is about Chief Craig and the last 20 months," he said. "We'll talk about that later."
Dohoney said he will begin a nationwide search on Wednesday. He expects the search to last through much of the summer. During the last hiring process 43 candidates applied for the job. Of the final four candidates, two were internal.
James Whalen is still with the department and Vincent Demasi has since retired and taken the job of Police Chief in West Palm Beach. FOX19 reached out to Demasi to see if he would be interested in re-applying for the position, but as of Tuesday evening had not heard back.
Whoever the City chooses, Craig has one key piece of advice for the next candidate.
"The next Chief is going to have to embrace the rank and file," Craig emphasized. "That's not a might do it, that's critical."
"Chief, we're going to miss you," said Mayor Mark Mallory. "We were honored to have you for the time we had you. You have learned while you were here, you have taught while you were here and we're a better city for it."
Chief Craig began his police career in Detroit back in 1977 before moving to Los Angeles in 1981. He was hired as Cincinnati's police chief in summer of 2011.
Craig has a track record of engaging with youth, in particular, to forge positive relationships with officers. He began Children In Trauma Intervention (C.I.T.I.) Camp for at-risk grade school youth, which aims to build character through discipline, leadership training and physical fitness. The first C.I.T.I. Camp was at Rothenberg School in Over the Rhine; the second was at South Avondale School and beginning in October of this year, the third will be at Rockdale School.
Additionally, Chief Craig revived the Explorers Program, which is a program through Boys Scouts of America. This program gives young adults the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement by working and training with members of the Cincinnati Police Department.
The Chief developed an External Advisory Committee made up of active local community members and business leaders. The Board was comprised to discuss policies and procedures and how they affect the greater community. Additionally, Chief Craig developed an Internal Advisory Board, made up of both sworn and civilian members of the Department, to address departmental issues within the CPD and to promote open dialogue to increase effective practices and procedures.
"I thank Chief Craig for his leadership and service," said Milton Dohoney Jr. "I am confident in the professionalism of the men and women of the department to continue offering the community the best service possible and to forge ongoing positive relationships with our neighborhoods."
City Councilman Chris Seelbach said in a tweet on Monday: "@ChrisSeelbach: Police Chief Craig officially leaving for Detroit. Cincinnati safer b/c of his efforts. We will find a great person to continue momentum."
"I started my policing career in Detroit almost 37 years ago. So with the possibility of going home, it's huge," Chief Craig told FOX19's Brett Hoffland on Monday.
Craig also spoke candidly of Cincinnati's police force.
"It's really been a great experience for me, and I know some would question me talking in the past tense but I have to because when I got here certainly the men and the women who wear that uniform every day, they're some of the best police officers I've had the opportunity to work with," said Craig.
City officials spoke highly of Craig during his one-year review in 2012, saying he'd done a terrific job since taking the position.
"Together we did some great things. We've reduced crime. We started some youth programs. Sometimes when you go into a new place, a new organization, there's a strong resistance to change, but they embraced it, and here we are just two years in and folks have really been supportive," added Craig.