Duggan Taps State Civil Rights Director to Lead Detroit Police Department as Interim Chief

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Image credit: City of Detroit/Flickr

​Detroit native James White will take over as Detroit’s interim police chief on June 1. White had been with the department since 1996 before leaving last summer to lead the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

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After leading the Michigan Department of Civil Rights less than a year, former Detroit assistant police chief James White is returning as interim chief. 

White had been with Detroit Police Department since 1996, including serving as assistant chief for seven years under outgoing chief James Craig, before leaving in August 2020. During his tenure at DPD, White led compliance with two federal consent judgments on the use of force. 

I’ll certainly take a lot of what he’s instilled in me and taught me about leadership. He is really one of the smartest police minds I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but I will do James White. I will not do James Craig.” —James White, Detroit Police Department 

White, who will seek the permanent job, gave praise to his predecessor.  

I’ll certainly take a lot of what he’s instilled in me and taught me about leadership. He is really one of the smartest police minds I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, but I will do James White. I will not do James Craig,” White says. 

White says policing reform and supporting officers are not mutually exclusive ideas. 

You can have reform. You can have supportive police officers. You can support good cops, you can stand behind good policing measures. Officers are troubled by some of the things that we’ve seen in this country,” he says. 

The Board of Police Commissioners is selecting a search firm to find candidates for the permanent job. Recommendations are expected to be made to Mayor Mike Duggan within the next two to three months. 

He is going to be compared against the best applicants we get from around the state around the country. That’s what they’re going to do in their process. But if he comes in and unifies this department and starts to make an impact, he’s going to be an extremely strong, permanent candidate,” Duggan says. 

In one of his first acts as interim police chief, White says he is submitting Todd Bettison’s name to the police commission for consideration to be first assistant chief. 

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