Wilmington crime

Wilmington police chief to step down

Charlie MegginsonGovernment, Headlines

Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy (City of Wilmington)

Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy (City of Wilmington)

The city of Wilmington is in need of a new top cop.

Police Chief Robert Tracy has been selected as a finalist to become police commissioner in St. Louis, Missouri, he announced Monday night.

Whether or not he gets the job, Tracy will leave the Wilmington Police Department, the mayor’s office confirmed Tuesday.

It’s not clear when Tracy plans to step down. 

“I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the first outside chief of the Wilmington Police Department,” Tracy said in a news release.

“In the nearly six years I have held this post, I have had the fortune to work alongside our many committed residents, community leaders, faith leaders, members of the business community, and elected and appointed officials and staff to help make Wilmington a safer place.”

The news release said that, regardless of what happens with the St. Louis position, Tracy will assist Purzycki in the search for a replacement.

The mayor said Tracy is highly regarded throughout the nation for his law enforcement knowledge, experience, and policing techniques. 

“Through his efforts and those of the men and women of our city’s police department, Wilmington’s homicide rate is at its lowest in a decade and other categories of crime have also shown significant decreases,” Purzycki said. “Wilmington was very fortunate to be able to hire Bob Tracy as police chief in April of 2017. He has served our city well.”

Under Tracy’s leadership, the Wilmington Police Department placed body-worn cameras on every officer, published a policy and procedures manual, and implemented community engagement initiatives.

“It is my hope to have the opportunity to bring these same strategies and successes to St. Louis, should I be appointed the next police commissioner,” Tracy said. “I am humbled to have had this opportunity to serve the city of Wilmington, and I appreciate all those who are committed to continuing to make this city a great place to live, work and play.” 

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In January 2022, City Council President Trippi Congo led a successful vote of no confidence in Tracy, alleging systemic problems within the department’s ranks.

Purzycki denounced Congo’s criticisms as “baseless attacks” and said they would do “irreparable harm to the department.”

An online petition in support of Tracy’s leadership gathered 1,681 signatures.

According to WDEL, Congo’s criticism of Tracy continued even after learning about his plans to move on.

“I don’t think that Chief Tracy did a great job of responding to some of council’s requests, whether it be talking publicly about some of the things that are happening within the department or within the city in terms of violence,” Congo told WDEL.

“I don’t think he was engaged enough. I hate to be critical of him at this point, but it was frustrating being on council and never hearing from the Chief of Police.”

Congo also told WDEL that he couldn’t “sign off” on a recommendation for Tracy if he spoke with his colleagues on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Delaware LIVE’s attempts to reach Congo independently were not successful.

Tracy will be interviewed for the St. Louis position Tuesday in a public meeting alongside three other finalists: Chief Larry Boone of Norfolk, Virginia, Deputy Chief Melron Kelly of Columbia, South Carolina, and interim St. Louis Police Chief Michael Sack.

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