West Hartford Ron Van Winkle and Mayor Scott Slifka announced Tuesday that Captain Tracey G. Gove will become West Hartford's new police chief, replacing who is retiring at the end of December.
Gove, who will turn 40 later this week, just learned of his appointment earlier today, and said that when he begins his new job, he is most looking forward to talking with people in West Hartfoird, listening to their concerns, and working to address them.
"My vision is to engage the community more, to meet with residents, and engage the diverse population. Those are our untapped resources," Gove said during a press conference Tuesday evening.
He said the single biggest challenge of taking over the position will be managing the transition. "Change at the top always creates anxiety, and there's always that transition period where you need to ease those anxieties."
Gove does not anticipate making any major overhaul of the department. "There are some big shoes to fill here and I take that very seriously ... I don't anticipate sweeping changes right away. I plan to build on the successes of Chief Strillacci," he said.
From a crime standpoint, Gove cited cyber crime as one of the biggest challenges to meet in the future. "Crime knows no boundaries now; that makes it difficult for us to reach out through those boundaries."
Gove, who was just appointed of the Patrol Division in September, was one of 13 candidates who applied for the job once Chief Strillacci announced his retirement plans. According to Van Winkle, six of those candidates were interviewed and four were seriously considered for the position. All of the candidates were present or past members of the West Hartford Police Department.
Mayor Slifka said that the choice of Gove was ideal, "not just for the West Hartford we have today, but for the West Hartford of the future." He cited Gove's unique academic approach to law enforcement, lifelong commitment to diversity, communication skills, and the fact that he is a great husband and father of three boys as factors in making him the ideal candidate.
“This was a very difficult decision,” said Town Manager Ron Van Winkle in a news release. “We had a number of highly qualified applicants for this job. Any one of them could have served well as our next Chief and that speaks volumes of the quality of our recruitment process and training. Captain Gove has had an exemplary career and it is an honor to appoint him Chief of Police.”
Gove first joined the West Hartford police department in 1994, and has served "with great distinction," Slifka said. He was named police officer of the year in 1999, and other than a 19-month stint with the Connecticut State Police, his career has been in West Hartford. He currently lives in Farmington.
Gove has been the recipient of the Unit Citation Award, the Distinguished Unit Citation Award, the Police Merit Award, and the Distinguished Service Award and Medal, and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Enforcement Award.
Gove received his Bachelor of Science degree from Westfield State College and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Hartford. According to the release, 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.
Gove is an adjunct professor at Manchester Community College, and is a frequent contributor to law enforcement journals. In 2008, he delved into micromanagement issues in the criminal justice field in a seven-page story for Police Chief magazine.