After more than 22 years with the West Hartford Police Department, the last six as chief, Tracey Gove has accepted a new opportunity to work in the private sector.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford Police Chief Tracey Gove will retire from West Hartford Police Department at the end of November, leaving in his wake a legacy of collaboration and strong ties with the community.
“This is really all I’ve ever known,” Gove said Monday in an interview with We-Ha.com, shortly after his decision was announced. “I’ve been in policing for 24 years, in West Hartford for 22 years, and six years as chief.”
Gove, 45, will become director of Corporate Security for The Travelers, responsible for security operations in the Greater Hartford area. He will also partner with the company’s Internal Investigations and Executive Protection departments, according to the announcement.
The decision to leave the police department, to leave public service, is bittersweet, Gove said, but he and his family are excited about the new opportunity. Gove is married and has three young sons.
Gove’s last day with the West Hartford Police Department is Nov. 30, but he said this is actually his last week in the official capacity as chief. He begins his new position on Dec. 4.
“I have been working very closely with the assistant chiefs [Dan Coppinger and Robert McCue] who have know about this for some time,” Gove said Monday. They had been asked to keep the news confidential until the official announcement was made.
Coppinger will take over as acting chief on Nov. 18, Gove said.
“The assistant chiefs and I work together on a daily basis. There’s very little they don’t know,” Gove said. He anticipates the transition will be seamless.
When asked what he will miss most about being chief of the West Hartford Police Department, Gove immediately said the interaction with and collaboration with the community.
“I’ll miss meeting members of the community, running into them in local coffee shops, working with the Town Council, seeing people at Town Hall and in the senior centers, meeting and talking with people,” Gove said. “Of course my police officers have always been a priority for me, too,” he quickly added.
Gove said he is so proud to have been given the chance to lead the West Hartford Police Department, and greatly appreciates that the town manager and department directors have been so supportive of his efforts.
“People always ask me what I think my top accomplishments are,” Gove said. “I have trouble answering because I’m not totally responsible for them. It’s the people in the agency, who come up with the ideas, implement them, and follow through with them who make us look good,” he said.
“I hope that my legacy is the fact that I really wanted to collaborate and maintain ties with the community,” said Gove. Some the initiatives he cited include “Coffee with the Beat Officer” with business districts throughout town, “Meet Your District Officer” in the schools, “Community Classroom: Use of Force” programs, and “Coffee with the Chief for Faith-Based Leaders.” Gove also reinstated the department’s Citizens Academy and partnered with Central Connecticut State University to create a master’s degree program for law enforcement, something numerous department members have taken advantage of.
When tensions between police departments and communities regarding use of force began headlining national news across the country in 2016, Gove did not hesitate to write a letter to the West Hartford community.
Gove’s appointment as chief was announced on Dec. 13, 2011, by former town manager Ron Van Winkle. He succeeded Jim Strillacci who retired on Dec. 31, 2011, after 20 years in the position.
“I speak for all residents and employees of West Hartford in thanking Police Chief Tracey Gove for his passion for public service and leadership in our community,” Mayor Shari Cantor said in a statement. “He has served our town for 22 years and as Chief since 2011 working as a true partner with all members of our community.”
“I will miss him not only as an outstanding police chief but also as a friend. He is hard working, caring, and ethical. He has been a leader in community policing. He has kept us safe and we are grateful that he is leaving us with a wonderful police department that has our community’s safety and well-being as its top priority,” she continued.
Town Manager Matt Hart, who succeeded Ron Van Winkle in July 2017, expressed his gratitude to Gove for helping introduce him to the police department and the West Hartford community. “I greatly respect his talents as a leader and as a manager, and wish him continued success in the future,” Hart said in a statement.
Assistant Chief McCue said that the job of a chief is a difficult balancing act. “Chief Gove as excelled in doing this in a caring and compassionate manner,” he said in a statement.
Chief Gove has a bachelor’s degree Westfield State College and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Hartford. He was first in his class at the Connecticut State Police Academy and received the Samuel Luciano Award for academic excellence and the CSP Academy Alumni Association Award for overall performance.
He has also earned many awards with the West Hartford Police Department, including Police Officer of the Year, Unit Citation Award, Distinguished Unit Citation Award, Police Merit Award, Distinguished Service Award and Medal and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Enforcement Award.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!