New Detroit Police Chief James Barren can talk down a crazed hostage, provide counseling to troubled officers, even fly helicopters, reports the Detroit Free Press. He has a challenge of a different level now: turning around an understaffed police department that remains under federal oversight. New Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. promised that new chief would be “the general,” without his intervention.
Cockrel’s comments and appointment of Barren won raves with the rank-and-file officers of the department. Former Sgt. David Malhalab, a department critic, said that Barren “can have a dramatic impact on the department, crime in Detroit and the residents of Detroit, in a very short time.” Barren, 57, made his names knocking down doors and dealing with barricaded gunmen with the department’s special response team. He also brings a PhD in counseling and is a licensed counselor. Lt. Randall Hampton, who worked under Barren and went to flight school with him, said officers turned to Barren for advice. “He uses psychology to help officers and to deal with the life of being an officer as well as a citizen,” he said. Barren, who served 31 years with the department before retiring in 2004, hit the streets Thursday evening to meet cops and go on patrol.