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Detroit Police Chief Catches Flak Over 'Carjacking' Victim Experience

DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit's top cop is facing backlash after telling people he was nearly a carjacking victim.

Detroit Political Consultant Greg Bowens said Police Chief James Craig is no profile in courage after a near run-in with a suspected carjacked on Jefferson Avenue.

"The chief was at a community meeting on carjacking and he related a story about almost being carjacked and he sped away. And so the thought was that 'Wow, the chief of police is running from crime in Detroit? Aren't these the people that run to crime,'" Bowens told WWJ's Vickie Thomas.

According to a report by the Detroit News, Craig told the crowd of about 50 people that he was sitting in his police cruiser at a red light when someone began running toward the passenger side of his vehicle. Once he noticed the suspected carjacker, Craig hightailed it out of there, or in his words "accelerated out of harm's way." After leaving the scene, Craig said he candidly got angry and thought "I can't believe this just almost happened."

Bowens said he expected the chief to have an entirely different reaction.

"Circle back around, call for help, pull out a gun, arrest the guy. Do something," he said.

Detroit police spokesperson Sgt. Michael Woody said the chief used his instincts, but there was no probable cause to arrest the man who approached his car.

Bowens said the whole situation leaves a bad taste in his mouth and he assumes others, especially those who live in Detroit, feel the same way.

"Carjacking is a big crime issue and, you know, he let one get away. So, that doesn't necessarily inspire confidence in the Detroit Police Department and it doesn't set, I think, a very good leadership example for other police officers who may come upon a crime scene. I mean, what does that tell them, you know, if you're almost the victim of a crime and you run," he said.

When Craig began leading the city's police department in July, he said he found that carjacking was "almost like a way of life in Detroit."

As of Monday, there have been 582 carjackings in the city this year, a one percent decrease compared the same period in 2012, Detroit police spokeswoman Kelly Miner told the Detroit News.

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