Ventura Police Chief Plans to Retire Dec. 4

Times Staff Writer

Ventura Police Chief Mike Tracy announced his retirement Wednesday after nearly five years as the seaside city's top peace officer.

Tracy, 55, will leave Dec. 4, nearly three decades after he joined the Ventura Police Department.

Assistant Police Chief Patrick Miller, 51, has been named to replace him, at least on an interim basis. Tracy said he endorsed Miller for the permanent job.

"I've got the best job in Ventura, but I've been here almost 30 years," Tracy said. "I plan to take some time and just relax, and sit in a rocking chair. This is my hometown, so I don't plan to go anywhere."

Nor will he have to work, since he will receive about 90% of his $147,000 annual salary, the maximum under the department's retirement system.

But Tracy said he would probably start another career, either in real estate sales or as a law enforcement consultant. Or maybe as a community volunteer.

Tracy and his wife, Linda, a longtime elementary school teacher who retired this year, said they intended to travel, especially to Arizona, where their 30-year-old son and 3-year-old grandson live.

"Maybe I'll just visit my grandson and live a life of leisure," Tracy said.

Tracy said he fully supports Miller to head the 128-officer Ventura force.

"Pat Miller would be an outstanding chief," he said. "He does a great job at everything he does. He's clearly the person I would recommend for the job."

Tracy served with Miller when both were assistant chiefs to Richard Thomas, who retired in 1999. Miller has been Tracy's assistant since. The department's other assistant chief is Ken Corney, appointed about a year ago.

"Ken is very capable as well, but I think Ken will tell you he thinks Pat is ready to be chief," Tracy said.

The appointment will be made by City Manager Rick Cole.

Tracy said the biggest problem facing Ventura police today was how to respond to an ever-increasing workload with the same number of officers the department had a decade ago.

"Calls for service are up 30% in 10 years, but we have the same size force," he said. "We're stretched thin."

Ventura's crime rate has ticked upward in recent years and is now the highest of the county's 10 cities. Tracy said that was partly the result of too few officers. But it also reflects how the department is dedicating more time and effort to certain crimes.

"Take domestic violence: 10 years ago we'd respond and break up a family fight and leave," he said. "Today, we're spending hours on those calls, and rightly so."

During Tracy's five years as chief, the department started a crisis intervention team, which trains police to better deal with mentally ill people during crises. It also focused on youth activities and anti-gang efforts.

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