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Farewell to Director White

By Simon Miners, Communications Intern

In his final days at the helm of MDCR, Director James E. White was able to answer some questions, speak more about his time as Director and look forward to the future as he assumes the role of Detroit's interim Chief of Police.

While brief, how satisfied are you with the work that has been done in your time as the Director?

"I am extremely satisfied with what we've done as a team here, and I'm very proud of it. I am really pleased with what's been done during my time, and I'm excited for the future of the MDCR."

What have you taken the most pride in during your time as Director?

"There are a couple of things that I'm incredibly proud of. For one, everyone has embraced change. There has been plenty of open dialogue through diagonal slice meetings. I take a lot of pride in having employees be a part of solutions and problem solving as a team. Plus, the way that the management and team have embraced all of the change at every turn."

What will you take with you from MDCR?

"I will ensure that I'll take with me my greater understanding of civil rights. Parts of my work in Detroit will involve and require consideration [of what he learned at MDCR.] I will seek police policy and interaction that is informed by the MDCR, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and equity and inclusiveness training that I've had at MDCR.

This type of training should be involved in every decision to be made in my new job: hiring, dismissals, discipline, accountability…everything. MDCR has elevated my comprehension of civil rights and equity in law enforcement."

In regard to the workers at MDCR, is there anything you would like to say?

"I'm happy for the time I have spent here, and it's been an absolute pleasure getting to know each and every one of the people here. I am leaving an organization that I'm very proud of. We are in good hands and the state is in good hands. I think the employee group is well educated, experienced and are only limited by how high their imagination tells them they can soar. I will continue to pray for each and every one of them and I wish them the best."

John Johnson Jr. has been named the interim Director. What do you believe he brings to the position?

"I originally hired John as a legislative liaison in the department due to his experience in legislation. He has experience with the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP, the Michigan Tax Tribunal, and as an attorney and a member of the State Bar of Michigan. He has applied for the job of Executive Director at least twice. Knowing he has displayed the desire and experience gives me confidence that he will be a fine interim director. He will embrace the successes and changes that we've made thus far and implement his own strategies to further the goals for this organization. I'm confident that he will go far, especially given his education, experience, and knowledge with civil rights. I'm excited for him and excited for the department."

Looking back on the last nine months, what is your parting message to MDCR?

"I want to thank each and every person at MDCR for giving me a chance. As an executive director walking in at one of the most unique times in America, being embraced and accepted as a law enforcement official has humbled me and filled my heart with tremendous appreciation.

I want to thank each and every person for their commitment to me and the department. I will carry out my commitment to them and the department in order to ensure appropriate police transparency, policy and equity. I wish all continued success, health and prosperity."

Director White, now Interim Chief White, left us with this final quote - a quote he acknowledged was "abstract" and might be confusing, but he trusted we would understand its meaning.

"The work we do here at MDCR is not about you, but it's all about you."