ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has named Robert Tracy as its next police chief.

Tracy’s selection marks the first time an incoming St. Louis Chief of Police takes comes from another police department outside of St. Louis. He joins the department out of Wilmington, Delaware.

Robert Tracy. (Photo provided by St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

“Although I’m not from St. Louis … I know in a short time, this city will feel like home to me,” said Tracy. “Together, we will make a difference. I’m excited to get started.”

Tracy has more than 36 years of law enforcement experience. In addition to his experience in Wilmington, he also served with New York City and Chicago police departments.

In a news conference Wednesday, Tracy says his department helped reduce violent crime in Wilmington by 50% over a five-plus year stretch. He also noted that Chicago’s homicide rate dropped to a fifty-year low while he served from 2011 to 2016.

“My office has heard from Wilmington leaders and those who have been colleagues of Chief Tracy before. Across the board, they uplift his strength of character, his compassionate leadership, and effective planning,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. “He’s dedicated to being a visible and dedicated chief to the communities he and his officers serve.”

Tracy hopes to utilize some strategies that worked in lowering crime in Chicago and Wilmington and discuss some visions for crime reduction with city officials and current officers.

“There’s some really good plans out there, there’s plan we’ve done in the past. Certainly those are the things I’m going to look at. What we’re doing here already, what we need to possibly change. I really have to sit down with my leaders of the police department, union representatives, even the police officers themselves, see what the deets are, and put that in an overall plan.”

Around 40 candidates applied in a competitive national search for a new police chief, according to the mayor’s office. What started as a pool of four candidates last week narrowed down to two by Tuesday.

Michael Sack, who has held the role on an interim basis after the retirement of John Hayden, notified colleagues Tuesday that he had not been selected. One day earlier, Melron Kelly, a police deputy chief from Columbia, South Carolina, withdrew his candidacy on Monday. Larry Boone of Norfolk, West Virginia, was the other finalist.

Tracy, Boone, Sack and Kelly all spoke at a town hall last week. Among the big topics discussed at that meeting included crime and gun violence, the city’s homicide rate and building trust in the community.

“We really have to have a plan that’s transparent and actually put it up on a website because the informed community is the one that is going to help us the most,” said Tracy in last week’s town hall meeting.

Tracy reiterated his intentions for building community trust, while also answering questions about improving relations with prosecutors and building officer morale. He will assume his new role on Jan. 9, 2023.

“To the people who live and work in St. Louis, I want to tell each of you that I will work tirelessly to bring safety to your neighborhoods,” said Chief Robert Tracy. “I will work to give you a police department that is responsive to your needs.  A police force that is accountable and accessible.  But I need your help too.  Safer communities don’t just happen.  It’s a mutual obligation we all have, and it can only happen when we work together. I look forward to getting to know the citizens of this great city and I know together we will do great things.” 

Tracy holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Marist College and a Bachelor of Arts in History from SUNY, Empire State College. His salary will be around $175,000, per the mayor’s office.

The Ethical Society of Police released the following statement on the selection of Tracy for St. Louis Police Chief:

“ESOP aspires to work diligently with the new chief towards making the agency equitable and fair for our officers and develop better community policing for all.

We have long called for more transparency and input. That starts with our plans to meet with the new chief in the immediate future to discuss our priorities, concerns and perspective.

We will hold him to high standards as we have previous chiefs and do everything we can to work together and support progress.”

The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association released the following statement:

“The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association would like to congratulate the newly selected Chief, Robert Tracy. The Association is looking forward to working with him and we are glad this process has come to an end. We are pleased there will finally be some stability in the Chief’s office.

Chief Tracy is facing many challenges within the community and with crime but he will also take the helm of the department during a staffing crisis with all-time low numbers for officers and support staff alike. In addition, Chief Tracy is dealing with a serious recruitment and retention problem that stems mostly from the huge pay disparity between our officers and the officers from other departments in the surrounding area.

We are encouraged by what we’ve heard from Chief Tracy thus far. We are optimistic that he will address officer morale and we are pleased by his willingness to engage with our Police Association, along with the other police leadership groups, to help this City and this department move forward. We stand ready to assist in making this a smooth transition for him and we are excited about the opportunity to work with him going forward.”