Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki announced his pick for the city’s new police chief. He’s handing the reins to Robert Tracy after considering 35 candidates; only 10 including Tracy were interviewed.
Tracy has served nearly 30 years combined in both New York and Chicago police departments – and was most recently chief of crime control strategies in Chicago.
Tracy began his policing career in New York in 1984, and most recently served as the principal crime control strategist for Chicago PD from 2011 to 2016.
During a few of those years – crime there was at a 50 year-low.
Purzycki calls the decision the most important he’ll make in his four-year term. He pointed to Tracy’s expertise in data-driven policing strategies as the primary reason for hiring him.
Those strategies include the “call-in” method which Tracy says involves intervening early with individuals who’ve committed crimes or are likely to commit crimes because of gang influences.
“It’s about pulling levers and ensuring that you send a message to the people in the community that you want to help them but you also want them out of crime, you want to stop the violence," Tracy said. "Then you have moral voice of the community, then you have social services – where people that don’t have a high school degree, you help them get their GED. If they can’t find a job, you look to find a job for them. You provide job training."
Purzycki also felt strongly about hiring an experienced professional from a big city.
“I think people have a bias against just hiring at home even though we may have some very capable people here," Purzycki said. "I think the bias is: if you hire at home, it’s more of the same and why should we be enthusiastic about the prospects of that?”
Purzycki adds he’s not sure why Wilmington PD hasn’t been able to curb the recent surge in gun violence in the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods, but hopes Tracy’s fresh perspective and expertise can help.
“It may be – although I don’t think so – that Bob Tracy comes in and says, you know, you’re doing everything just fine," Purzycki said. "My guess is he’s going to say: here’s how I would do these 3 or 4 things that’ll make a difference. And I don’t think you can do that when you’ve been in the same system all the time.”
Tracy has already committed to walking the streets in all Wilmington neighborhoods right away, as well as getting to know his co-workers within Wilmington PD. He says he's also excited about Wilmington's Real Time Crime Center.
Tracy replaces Bobby Cummings who is retiring this week after 32 years on the Wilmington police force.
Cummings was tapped to lead city cops by former mayor Dennis Williams in May 2014. He was asked to stay on by current mayor Mike Purzycki while Purzycki sought a new chief.