DPD Defends Chief Craig's Retreat From Possible Carjacker

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A Detroit Police spokesman defended Police Chief James Craig's recent actions in eluding a possible carjacker rather than apprehending the man, George Hunter reports in the Detroit News.

Hunter writes:

When a man rushed toward Craig’s squad car two weeks ago, the city’s top cop said he drove away — a decision police officials defended Wednesday in response to criticism that the chief should have done more.

Police officials on Wednesday noted the man who approached the chief’s cruiser hadn’t broken any laws.

“You can’t just arrest someone because he approaches your car,” Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said. “Maybe the guy was going to ask for directions. The chief did exactly what he should have done under those circumstances: Drive away and get to safety.”

Craig described the incident Monday at an anti-carjacking program attended by about 50 people. He said it happened two weeks ago as he was at a stop light on Jefferson Avenue.

“There are certain cars each suspect tends to (be attracted) to, and I guess they liked my police car — a police car with lights,” Craig said. “And one suspect jumped out and began running toward the passenger side of my vehicle ... As soon as I saw the suspect running to my car, I accelerated out of harm’s way.

“And then, candidly, I got angry. . . . I said, ‘I can’t believe this just almost happened.’ ”

A story that ran Tuesday on www.detroitnews.com garnered more than 200 reader responses, many from critics who wondered why Craig chose to flee, rather than arrest the suspect. On Deadline Detroit, commentator Greg Bowens criticized Craig in a column headlined "Detroit's New Police Chief Is Hardly a Profile in Courage."

The city has had 586 reported carjackings this year, an average of nearly two a day.

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