February 13, 2013

Former Portland chief was fugitive's commanding officer

'There was nothing that really stood out about' Christopher Dorner, James Craig says.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Former Portland Police Chief James Craig says the former Los Angeles police officer who is accused of killing four people once worked for him.

Craig, who's now the police chief in Cincinnati, said he was an area commander of the station in Los Angeles where Christopher Dorner, 33, was last assigned.

Dorner is suspected of killing a former Los Angeles police captain's daughter, her fiance and two police officers.

Police say Dorner vowed revenge against those in the department who were responsible for his firing in 2008, and their families.

Dorner was fired when a department board determined that he falsely claimed another officer had kicked a suspect.

Craig said neither he nor his family are on Dorner's alleged "hit list," which authorities shared with Craig.

"I'm not on his manifesto," Craig said, but Dorner says in that rambling document that he transferred from the Harbor command to Southwest. That's where Craig was commander before he became Portland's police chief.

Dorner was one of 400 officers in the command, part of the patrol division, Craig said.

"He was a new officer on probation. There was nothing that really stood out about him," Craig said.

But Craig was aware of Dorner eventually because commanders would be aware of any serious discipline of officers in their command.

Craig would not describe Dorner or discuss his interaction with him earlier this week because he was still at large.

Craig said he has discussed the case with friends who are still with the Los Angeles Police Department or have been affected by the incidents.

Craig knows Randal Quan, the former captain who represented Dorner during his discharge. That man's daughter and her fiance were the first people Dorner killed.

Craig communicated with Quan before they knew that Dorner was the suspect and that the former captain's role in the discharge case had led his daughter to be targeted.

The attack on an officer's family makes the violence personal for so many officers, Craig said.

"It's one thing to be a police officer. You join and do this work and understand there's a certain amount of risk," he said. "They get the risk to their own personal safety. You certainly don't join a police department and think about risk to your family."

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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