Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Detroit Police Department: Underfunded, Understaffed

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Image credit: J. Carlisle Larsen

Chief James Craig says Detroit continues to work on fixing police problems.

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James Craig | Police Chief, Detroit Police DepartmentJ. Carlisle Larsen

James Craig | Police Chief, Detroit Police Department

It’s been nearly a year since Detroit emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. All this month, WDET is looking back at the past year and how the Chapter 9 case affects the city.

This week we look at the residents and their experiences before and after the bankruptcy. Part of that includes public safety.

During the bankruptcy trial, then-Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr testified public safety was his first priority when he came to Detroit, four months before he filed the bankruptcy petition. Public safety has continued to be a top concern of city officials, including Mayor Mike Duggan who talked about police response, staffing and administrative changes at a recent community meeting.

 Detroit Police Chief James Craig joins Stephen Henderson to discuss what has happened to the department in the wake of the bankruptcy.  


  • Competition for Talent: “We are pushing to hire more police officers but we’re competing w suburban neighbors and other places. We have to be competitive when it comes to salaries” according to Craig


  • Lower Salaries: Detroit has some of the lowest starting salaries for rookie police officers. “Detroit police officers start at $32,000 per year  versus  other comparable cities where they start at $52,000” says Craig


  • City Living: A caller suggested that people tend to be most committed to the place where they live and many Detroit officers do not live in the city. Chief Craig responded “DPD officers have demonstrated over and again, every day, their commitment to Detroit”


Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 

Detroit Bankruptcy: One Year Later Series

This post is a part of Detroit Bankruptcy: One Year Later Series .

For a month, the Detroit Journalism Cooperative journalists will explore the impact of the city’s bankruptcy case, including its impact on people and neighborhoods and its long-term implications.

Audiences are invited to a free, community event where they can hear directly from key figures in the case and ask questions. The 6 to 8 p.m. program on Wednesday, Dec. 9 will be at Wayne State University’s Community Arts Auditorium. Learn more.

Presented by WDET in partnership with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Support for this project comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



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