Wilmington mayor names new police chief [video]

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     New Wilmington Chief of Police Robert Tracy (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

    New Wilmington Chief of Police Robert Tracy (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

    Following a months-long nationwide search, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki has named a Chicago and New York City police veteran to lead the city’s police department.

    During a news conference at the Chase Center on Wednesday afternoon, Purzycki announced Robert Tracy will be Wilmington’s next police chief.

    “While we are a small city, we have big city crime problems. And so I looked to larger urban departments when considering a new leader for Wilmington PD,” said Purzycki, of his pick who is an expert in the use of technology-based programs to reduce crime and increase accountability.

    “We chose the chief in large measure because of his demonstrable technical and leadership skills, his reputation for fairness and building trust in the community, and his unmatched background in advanced policing strategies,” said Purzycki, adding that Tracy is known for his even temperament and working well with officers and the community.

    Chosen from a field of 35 applicants from across the country, Tracy most recently worked with the Chicago Police Department, serving five years there as deputy chief of crime strategies. During his tenure from 2011 to 2016, the mayor said Chicago experienced the lowest murder rate in 50 years and the lowest overall crime rate since 1972.

    Tracy’s law enforcement career began in 1984 in New York City with the New York Police Department. During his 23-year career, Tracy quickly rose through the ranks to captain.

    “I am very grateful for this opportunity to serve as chief of police and want to thank Mayor Purzycki for his confidence in me,” Tracy said. “I will work to build on the existing Wilmington partnership of police and community which, when coupled with effective policing strategies, will help us reduce crime and improve community relationship.”

    Tracy promised to work tirelessly to bring safety to the city’s neighborhoods and to give residents a police department they can count on. Tracy plans to visit various neighborhoods throughout the city over the next few weeks.

    “Safer communities don’t just happen. It’s a mutual obligation we all have and can only happen when we work together,” said Tracy, who also promised the city’s 319-member police force that he will work hard to ensure they have the best training, equipment and supervision to do their jobs well.

    In February, Purzycki told WHYY that Chief Bobby Cummings threw his name in the ring, but Cummings announced last week that he would retire from the force, effective April 14. A walk out ceremony honoring Cummings is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

    “There’s going to be a temptation on the part of some to read this decision as a repudiation of our former leadership and nothing could be farther from the truth,” said Purzycki, during today’s news conference. “All of us have the highest regard and utmost professional respect for Chief Bobby Cummings.”

    In addition to holding high-ranking positions in the CPD and NYPD, Tracy holds a master’s degree in public administration. He also has experience in private security firms.

    The new chief and his wife, Brenda, have five children together.

    Chief Tracy will begin his new assigment on Friday.

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