Mark Fowler - WDEL
Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy will become police commissioner of St. Louis.
The announcement was made Wednesday by St. Louis Mayor Tisharua Jones. Tracy had been chief in Wilmington since 2017. He was one of four finalists for the position, then became one of two contenders.
During the town hall last week, Tracy said he would depart WPD whether or not he was chosen for the role in St. Louis.
Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:
“I offer my sincere congratulations to Chief Tracy on his selection as Police Commissioner of St. Louis. I wish nothing but the best for the Chief, Brenda, and their family as they embark on new opportunities and challenges in St. Louis. The Chief came to Wilmington during a very difficult time and leaves almost six years later with record reductions in homicides, the lowest violence in a decade, the lowest number of complaints against our police officers, and a very high level of officer retention. He institutionalized Wilmington’s crime analysis systems and his improvements will be preserved in the upcoming change in leadership. Most important he built deep relationships with the community and the clergy. We are grateful to the Chief for his service to our City and wish him and the citizens of St. Louis well. Chief Tracy will continue to hold the position of Police Chief in Wilmington through January 6. Between now and then, I’ll have more to say about the transition to a new police administration.”
A statement was also released Wednesday by Wilmington City Council President Ernest "Trippi" Congo II
"I would like to congratulate Chief Robert Tracy on his selection as Police Commissioner of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Council asked for change, and Chief Tracy worked with us to implement a Body-worn Camera program after we approved funding and passed a budget amendment to administer that program. As the administration seeks a new police chief, it is my hope that the next chief is promoted from within the Wilmington Police Department (WPD), is someone with a vested interest in the City, and who will work day and night to ensure that the residents of Wilmington can feel safe. Law enforcement is a collaborative effort, and Council will remain engaged with the administration and the WPD to continue the conversation around improving morale within the department. I also hope to see a revival of a dedicated Community Policing Unit. This unit was once comprised of a select group of officers who were visible within communities to help facilitate relationship-building with residents and who attended community meetings in their assigned areas. On behalf of Council, we would like to wish the best to Chief Tracy and his family as they embark on a new chapter in St. Louis."
As he spoke Wednesday in St. Louis, Tracy made reference to Newsweek once posting a headline labeling Wilmington as "Murdertown," while after a few years the city was dubbed "Turn-around town."
"As of today, overall crime is down by 27% from when I started in 2017, and most violent crimes including murders are down 50%, rape down 83% and robberies are down 54%.
This was not an easy task," Tracy said.
Tracy was also asked about the January 2022 vote of "no confidence" by the majority of members on Wilmington City Council, centered around lack of diversity in the department and leadership. Tracy said the last couple of academy classes were large majority persons of color.
"I listened to what our elected officials have to say. That was very short-lived," Tracy said regarding the City Council criticism.
(This is a developing story. Please check back for updates)