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Detroit hires fifth police chief in five years

By Steve Neavling

DETROIT (Reuters) - The city of Detroit hired its fifth police chief in five years as Michigan's largest city grapples with a financial crisis, low officer morale and one of the highest violent crime and homicide rates in the United States.

Mayor Dave Bing and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who was appointed by the state in March to overhaul the city's debt-riddled finances, announced the appointment of James Craig as Detroit's new police chief on Wednesday.

Craig, 56, is moving from being Cincinnati's top cop to accept what he called his "dream job," saying he was excited to return to the city where he began his law enforcement career as a Detroit police officer in 1977.

The timing is critical, said Orr, who expressed an urgency in hiring a permanent police chief in his financial report to the state this week.

"Over the last five years, (Detroit) has had five different police chiefs, with varying approaches to rehabilitating the Detroit Police Department's operations," Orr said. "As a result ... efficiency, effectiveness and employee morale are extremely low."

For the fifth year in a row, Forbes magazine called Detroit the "Most Dangerous City in America," citing its 386 murders last year and its relentless violent crime rate.

"I'm committed to reduce violence in the city," Craig said.

The previous police chief, Ralph Godbee, retired last October after a scandal involving a sexual relationship with a female officer. The department has operated since then with an interim chief of police.

(Reporting By Steve Neavling; Editing by Greg McCune and Nick Zieminski)

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