In the Wake of Tragedy, Detroit’s Newest Police Officers Look Ahead

Eli Newman / WDET

Detroit Police Department Graduating Recruit Class 2016-C

At the Second Ebenezer church on Detroit’s east side, police officers milled about outside the sanctuary, as friends and family members of the Detroit Police Department Graduating Recruit Class 2016-C took their seats. The police officers wore immaculate dress uniforms, complete with shiny black shoes. Over their hearts is the Detroit Police badge, and on this day, there was a single black band of cloth crossing through the center. It’s called Mourning Band Protocol, observed whenever an officer falls in the line of duty. The night before, a sniper fired into a crowd of protesters in Dallas, Texas. He killed five officers and left more than a half dozen others injured.

The sanctuary falls silent when the new recruits march in.

 

There’s 18 student officers in all: 17 men and one woman. As the recruits moved to their seats, Deputy Chief Chaplain A. Renee Taylor began the ceremony by reciting the National Anthem. She continued with the invocation.

 

Father help us to remember that there are more good people than there will ever be bad people, and there are more good police officers than there will ever be indifferent police officers.”

Deputy Chief Chaplain A. Renee Taylor, Detroit Police Department

 

Police Chief James Craig, who was recently appointed Deputy Mayor, walked up to the podium.

 

It’s a somber day. A sad day, and when we think about an attack on five law enforcement officers, Dallas police officers, five lost their lives serving others. And we know that any attack on any police officer is an attack on us.”

Police Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department 

 

Eli Newman / WDET

Presentation of Badges

Craig noted the “tremendous scrutiny” police face nationwide in the aftermath of the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. “Those incidents do not define policing,” he said. Earlier in his career, Craig served with the Los Angeles Police Department. After arresting a robber without the use of force, he recalled a decision he made as young man.

 

The suspect was very thankful, then my training officer, who was my senior, he said, ‘Kick him. Kick him in the head. He’s a robber, he deserves nothing.’ And I said, ‘I will do no such thing.’ I made a decision on that day that I will do the right thing for all the right reasons. There may come a time where you too will be tested. And always remember your oath of office. And always remember that the end does not justify the means. You serve the people of the city of Detroit.”

Police Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department

 

Police Officer Blake Calloway moved to the stage, joining the police chief in the recitation of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. He said the recent series of shootings do not reflect the attitude of the officers he knows in the department.

 

We’re being profiled by the actions of other police officers, but here in Detroit, we’re trained well, we’re trained by the best of the best, and we’re trained on how to react to certain situations.”

Police Officer Blake Calloway, Detroit Police Department Graduating Recruit Class 2016-C 

 

Now that their training is complete, the new recruits left the sanctuary, where they were scheduled to hit the streets of Detroit that afternoon.

 

Click on the audio link at top to hear the whole story.

Image credit: Eli Newman / WDET

About the Author

Eli Newman

Reporter/Producer

Just a small guy with big ideas. Sharing content and culture at WDET 101.9 FM.

eli.newman@wdet.org   Follow @other_eli

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