Mayor Duggan appoints James White as Detroit police chief
DETROIT (FOX 2) – The city of Detroit is likely to remove the provisional tag from James White and appoint him as Detroit Police Chief after two and a half months as head of the department.
The city held a press conference on Monday afternoon to officially announce that White had been chosen by Mayor MIke Duggan to be made permanent chief of police, 10 weeks after being announced as acting chief after leaving the retirement of James Craig.
The white still needs to be approved by the city council.
As of June 1, White has been the face of the department to take stock of violence, including brawls in Greektown, issues with officers and several violent nights in Detroit, including the murder of an innocent 2-year-old boy in mid-June.
The goals of whites to fight violence
On day one, he told FOX 2 that he wanted to tackle the rising crime rate and gun violence.
“The idea isn’t necessarily to lock everyone up – you can’t stop to get out of problems – but it’s to be visible in those communities. So from the start, we want to make sure that we have anyone who can patrol to be patrolling, ”White said.
White is also a licensed therapist who is passionate about mental health support, which includes those who commit crimes and the officers who fight it every day.
“We have to make sure we keep them up, support them and give them the help they need. There is no shame in needing mental health support – for anyone,” did he declare.
The violent summer of Detroit
Brison Christian was killed on I-75 in a mistaken identity case when shooters targeted the wrong truck on I-75 as the family left a basketball game in Dearborn. He was shot in the head and rushed to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
An emotional white man spoke days after the shooting and praised Brison’s father’s response and the way he behaved after his son was murdered.
“The way Mr. Christian has conducted himself in this regard – is a force that I have never seen and he should be applauded,” White said.
Saying that he could never find the appropriate words for Brian or his family, he said that Brison will never be forgotten.
Two suspects were eventually arrested and charged with the murder of the toddler.
A month later, he was speaking again of the shooting death of an innocent victim.
“This is absolutely unacceptable,” he said on July 22 of Tikiya Allen’s death. “Everyone is too sick of me telling this story over and over again.”
Allen was killed while cycling when she was caught in crossfire outside a friend’s duplex in the Pingree and Linwood area. White said she was not the intended target.
James E. White was appointed full-time Detroit Police Chief on Monday, August 23.
“It appears – all indications – that she was caught in the crossfire of someone who made the horrific decision to use a gun to resolve the dispute they had,” White said.
He also had to deal with the shooting death of a suspect after an undercover agent during an illegal street race was hit by a car. A stolen Dodge Charger was making donuts when it collided with the undercover agent. White said the suspicious vehicle crashed into an undercover agent and three of the four escaped. A fourth man, however, fired a 9mm and White said he refused to drop the gun before being shot by police in the car.
White said he believed his life was in danger and shot him. The man was able to run a few steps but later collapsed and was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The two officers have been placed on leave while police investigate the shooting.
Controversy over the conduct of a Detroit police officer
Several Detroit police officers have also been embroiled in controversy over the past two and a half months. Just last week, a Detroit police lieutenant was charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct following charges of raping a policewoman last February.
Lt. Willie Duncan served in the force for more than 20 years and was indicted Friday morning in the assault. White requested permission to suspend Duncan without pay during the investigation, calling it a privilege to be a Detroit police officer.
“If your conduct does not support this privilege of being able to represent this department in this city with this badge, it is my responsibility to make sure that you do not wear one,” he said.
It was the latest round of police problems in the department, including one where officers left the scene after observing an ongoing shooting. The dashcam video, reported for the first time by Charlie LeDuff for Deadline Detroit, showed dashcam video of the shooting, then officers leaving the scene. The victim was injured in the leg and was helped by these officers, who eventually turned around and rescued.
White said he was concerned about the nature of the officers’ response.
“This incident is troubling and it’s unfortunate and it’s not consistent with our training,” White said on July 23. “And that’s not in line with the expectations that are set by myself and my command team.”
White asked what the police thought they were doing as they walked away from the scene.
Detroit Police Officer LaSonja Parker said there was no other option at this time.
“They pointed at us. There was a red beam (from a laser gun) that one of the suspects had, which went through our windshield. We basically thought we were under fire,” he said. Parker said. “That’s why we reacted the way we did.”
Parker and his partner, a recruit, are both on leave during the investigation. She said they returned about 25 seconds after the start, which the video does not show.
Detroit Police are still investigating.
Then, in early August, a video surfaced on Reddit that showed a Detroit police officer hitting a man in Greektown during a savage brawl.
The man was apparently involved in a fight and was walking away from the officers in the middle of the street when he was struck by the officer. The man who was punched does not appear to react when officers attempt to lift him. He eventually wakes up and begins to shake hands with the police. The pedestrians then help him up as the officers leave the scene.
This sparked an internal police investigation.
“I have serious concerns about the way this was handled. We expect our officers to defuse situations. I didn’t see any de-escalation there, I didn’t see our training there. “White said. “If there is a violation, we will hold the officers accountable and we will be transparent about it to the community.”
Greektown and the fight against crime
Greektown has been a center of activity and violence, including multiple brawls.
In early June, White announced a 5-point plan to target violence in some of the city’s busiest areas and curb drag racing.
RELATED: Detroit Police Assaulted, Multiple Arrests, 13 Firearms Confiscated After Greektown Brawl
“We are lowering the party atmosphere, but we have to do it responsibly,” White said at the time. “It’s not just words. We take this seriously.”
The five-point plan uses an increased police presence, stricter noise enforcement, stricter policing on drag races, improved community engagement, and code and parking enforcement.
To achieve this, Mayor MIke Duggan approved 4000 overtime for weekend crowd control and 2000 overtime for drift and drag racing police. He noted that this would not compromise the ministry’s ability to answer 911 calls outside of targeted areas.
White wanted the job
White also told FOX 2 that he hopes to be the full-time police chief.
He was born and raised in Detroit and the career cop joined the police force in 1996. Over the next 14 years, he rose through the ranks and was appointed deputy chief in 2012.
In the spring of 2020, when Craig was battling COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, White also took over as acting chief of police. Last August, he left the department to head the state civil rights department. But when Mayor Mike Duggan asked him to take over, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I can only speak what I want. I will compete and I would love to have the position to serve the community and serve this city and these officers for a very long time, but it is not up to me,” White said.