Detroit officials say four men were arrested over the weekend after they allegedly threatened on social media to kill police officers.
In addition, Detroit Police Chief James Craig says a member of his force was demoted after posting criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement on Facebook.
Craig says Nathan Weekley has been dropped from the rank of detective to police officer and the department has opened an internal investigation into the matter.
Detroit’s police chief says the media bear some responsibility for the recent high-profile series of shootings involving law enforcement.
Emotions remain raw in many communities after police officers shot and killed black civilians in Louisiana and Minnesota, and after police officers were assassinated in apparent retaliation in Dallas.
Craig says he questions some of the tactics that led officers to use deadly force.
But the police chief adds that he believes the media bear some responsibility for the recent high-profile series of shootings.
Craig says he questions if the media is focusing on the incidents to help better inform the public or to help improve their audience ratings and readership.
“There are black police officers that shoot African Americans or whites that never make the national news,” Craig said. “(But when it’s a) white officer, the inference is a white officer must be racist. And that’s wrong.”
Yet Craig says the media can also be an ally in helping police communicate directly to the public about ongoing violent situations or the status of investigations into criminal activity.
Craig also says the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota might have been avoided if the officers involved had simply taken a less confrontational approach.
Craig admits he has not analyzed the recent shootings in minute detail.
But he says the officers involved did not take certain steps that would have likely put them in a position where they did not have to use deadly force.
Craig said that includes “not considering concealment, cover and all those things. (If) we don’t do that we put ourselves and the community in harm’s way. And that’s why training and tactics are so critical.”
Craig says the best tactic of all is to bridge mistrust between police and the public by having officers and community members regularly connect and engage with each other.
It’s an approach Craig says helped defuse racial tensions that erupted when he worked with the Cincinnati Police Department.
Craig says that city created what officials called a “Contract with the Community.”
He said, “I think that should be a national best practice. It involves the community directly in how they want to be policed. To develop strategies together to abate crime and improve quality of life, it’s just that simple. The contract just takes it to yet another level.”
Craig says he’s trying a similar idea in Detroit by assigning some police officers to concentrate on the needs of specific neighborhoods in the city.
After a weekend community meeting on the recent shootings, Police Chief Craig talked about the overall situation with WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter.