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The Chiefs of the Tracy PD

It was July 15, 1910 when Tracy town members gathered together and voted in favor of creating a municipal corporation.  A week later on July 22, the Secretary of State for California filed an order of incorporation, creating the City of Tracy.  On this same date, the first meeting of the Tracy Board of Trustees (now known as the Tracy City Council) was held.

The first order of business was to draft an ordinance providing for the place and time for Board of Trustee meetings, along with setting the salaries and bond amounts for the City Clerk/Assessor, the Treasurer, the Marshal/Tax Collector, and the Recorder.  After some discussion, Ordinance #1 was introduced.

It wasn’t until August 4, 1910 that the Board appointed Tracy’s first Marshal, 32 year old William Louis Lampkey, who would receive $75 per month for his services.

For the next several months, Marshal Lampkey took steps to form Tracy’s Police Department.  He set up an office in the Odd Fellows building on 6th Street and hired a Deputy Marshal and a Night Watchman.  (Night Watchmen walked the downtown beat, making sure Tracy’s businesses were secure and the streets were free of vagrants. For their efforts, Night Watchmen were paid $25 a month.)  Marshal Lampkey also hired a Pound Master to help rid the city of dogs running at large.

After slightly more than a year in office, Marshal William Lampkey resigned on November 2, 1911 to run a post office business at the Mossdale.  Two years later, Mr. Lampkey returned to Tracy to run a saloon.

After the resignation of Marshal Lampkey, the Board of Trustees appointed Ernest A. “Pop” Gieseke as Marshal of Tracy.  Marshal Gieseke wasn’t new to law enforcement.  From 1886 until his death in 1933, Marshal Gieseke also held the position of Constable of the Court. When he wasn’t working those jobs, he ran a livery stable.

In the summer of 1917, the Tracy Board of Trustees began receiving complaints from local residents and business owners that the Marshal and his Officers were failing to enforce gambling and liquor laws.  During this same time, the Board was presented with a letter from the Law Enforcement League, asking that another Marshal be appointed in Marshal Gieseke’s place.

As a result of the complaints, the Board passed a resolution ordering Marshal Gieseke and his Officers to strictly enforce the ordinances of the City, and their attention should be specifically directed to the reports of gambling and the selling of intoxicating liquors without a license.  The Board further stated if results were not obtained in due time, additional action would be taken.

Less than a year after Marshal Gieseke received the Board’s order, he resigns on April 18, 1918.  After Marshal Gieseke’s resignation, the Board received two applications for Marshal, one from former Marshal William L. Lampkey and the other from M. T. Cochran, currently a Deputy Marshal.  After a vote, the Board appoints William Lampkey as Marshal for the second time. 

After only 13 months in office, Marshal Lampkey resigned and moved to Oakland, California.  For the next twenty-two years William Lampkey served as an Officer for the Piedmont Police Department until his retirement in 1930.

Once again, the Board of Trustees was faced with hiring another leader for the Police Department.  After receiving several applications for the position, on May 1, 1919, the Board appoints Dan Ingram, brother of the Late Deputy Marshal Ben Ingram, as the new Marshal.  The Marshal’s salary at this time was fixed at $150 per month.

For the next several months, personal differences had arisen between Marshal Dan Ingram and Deputy Marshal William Fred Trimpler, culminating with Marshal Ingram firing the Deputy without the Boards knowledge or approval.  When the Board of Trustees heard of the firing, they asked for Marshal Ingram’s badge.  On March 25, 1920, Marshal Dan Ingram resigned as Tracy’s Marshal.

After Ingram’s resignation, the Board appointed Deputy Marshal Trimpler as the new Marshal, however he didn't last long.  On July 1, 1920, Marshal Trimpler was removed from office and William H. Lasswell was appointed Marshal. 
 
In September of 1920, the police force was increased by one Deputy Marshal, who would receive $140 a month.  The Marshal’s office was now staffed with three lawmen, the Marshal and two Deputies.

The increase in staff brought the need to purchase Tracy’s first police car.  In January 1921, a member of the Board announced he knew of a Ford touring car, in perfect condition, that could be purchased for $350.  The purchase was approved and Tracy soon took delivery of their new patrol unit.

More Marshals came and went.  July 1921 saw Marshal Lasswell resign and John Madrid taking his place.   John Madrid wasn’t new to law enforcement as he had worked for several years as a Deputy Marshal.  Six months after Marshal Madrid’s appointment, he was shot and wounded while attempting to capture a bank robber.

It was December 29, 1921 and Marshal Madrid was engaged in assisting San Joaquin County Deputy Sheriff Jess Wheatly in the capture of a bank robber near the San Joaquin Bridge, when he was wounded by a gunshot to his right arm. 

Marshal Madrid returned to Tracy where he received treatment for his wound from Dr. Allen R. Powers.  During the next few months while Marshal Madrid was recovering, Deputy Marshal Tiexeria temporarily took over the Office of Marshal.

During the month of September, 1924, Marshal John Madrid resigned and Deputy Marshal August F. Rosin became the 8th Marshal for the City of Tracy.

In the spring of 1925, Marshal Rosin asked the Board of Trustees for a $40 a month wage increase, which was denied.  Marshal Rosin immediately asked for a 60 day leave of absence without pay, which was granted.  While Marshal Rosin was on leave, Deputy Marshal William H. Lasswell took over as head of the Police Department.

Towards the end of May, Marshal Rosin sent a letter to the Board stating that he would return to work on June 5th, and in the same letter the Marshal asked for a $25 a month increase in pay.  During the next Board of Trustees meeting on June 4, 1925, the Board discussed the request for increase in salary, at which time they voted to “declare the Office of the Marshal vacant.”  The Board then voted to appoint William Lasswell as permanent Marshal.

On May 10, 1927, Marshal Lasswell announced that his officers were of the opinion, the Tracy Police Department “should be in keeping with many other cities of Sixth Class, by wearing uniforms and shields instead of the old style star”. They therefore asked for the Board’s opinion in the matter. The Board agreed as long as the officers paid for their own “outfit”.  From this point on, the head of the Police Department would be known as Chief, and the Board of Trustees would be known as the City Council.

For the next thirteen months, Chief Lasswell led the department until his unexpected resignation on June 1, 1928.  Without providing an explanation for his departure, he left the department for his final time. 

The next time William H. Lasswell appeared in the news was nine years later on April 15, 1937.  A headline in a San Jose newspaper read “Ex-Police Chief Plunges to Death”.  The article goes on to state that on April 14, 1937, William H. Lasswell, 58 years, died after plunging into a gravel hopper, at the Pacific Coast Aggregates gravel pit, located southwest of Tracy.  No other details were given.

After the resignation of Chief Lasswell, the City Council appointed Ora Clarence Morehouse as Chief of Police. A couple years went by, and during a Council meeting in April 1930, a resolution was passed stating, “Due to certain irregularities existing in the Police Department, the City Council would move that the Office of Chief of Police be declared vacant, and O.C. Morehouse is removed from office.”  A vote was then taken and William L. Lampkey was appointed Chief for the third time.

During the following Council meeting on May 1, 1930, this entry was recorded in the meeting minutes. “Chief Lampkey appeared before the council and announced that due to the situation of certain matters concerning his appointment at last meeting of the Council, he believed that in all due fairness to all concerned, he believed that some action should be taken by the council to relieve him of, and the council of, an embarrassing condition now existing, due to some misunderstanding he was not in a position to know just what the attitude was of  his appointment, and in order that he may still retain his former position, he asked that the Council accept his resignation.  The Council voted and Chief Lampkey’s resignation was accepted.”  The Council then voted to rehire O.C. Morehouse as Chief.

Chief Morehouse remained Chief for two more years until he resigned in June of 1932.  After receiving Chief Morehouse’s resignation, the Council reviewed applications on file for Chief and appointed long time Railroad Police Officer Barney Francis Phelan.

In 1936, the California Peace Officers Association convention was held in Santa Monica, between October 15th and 17th.  Chief Phelan and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) attended the event.  Upon their return to Tracy on Sunday October 18th, they were involved in a horrific traffic collision around 4pm, between Fresno and Madera. Both were transported to the Burnett Sanitarium in Fresno with serious injuries. 

With Chief Phelan hospitalized, the City Council requested the Police Commission recommend an Acting Chief until Chief Phelan was able to return to work.  The Commission recommended Floyd Glenn Wise of the Berkeley Police Department. The City Council accepted the recommendation and appointed Mr. Wise as Acting Chief.

On October 26, 1936 at 2:20AM, a call came to the Tracy Police Department reporting Chief Bernard Francis Phelan had succumbed to his injuries at age 57.  Bessie Phelan recovered and returned to Tracy. At the next City Council meeting in November, Acting Chief Wise was appointed Chief of Police.

For the next four years, Chief Wise made it a priority to equip the department with state-of-the-art technology not typical for agencies the size of Tracy.  An article appearing in the August 1940 issue of the California Peace and Police Officers Journal stated “Chief Wise has done much to build up the Tracy department as one of the best in the smaller inland cities, and is justly proud of the new headquarters provided for him in the new Tracy Hall of Justice.”  The article further stated “Chief Wise is an up-to-date official who has every type of equipment any large department might have, including two-way radios.” 

A month later, tragedy struck the department once again.  On September 19, 1940, Chief Wise was returning to Tracy from a police officers meeting in the bay area when he was struck head-on and killed instantly while traveling on the "Oakland to Stockton Highway", West of Livermore. He was 43 years old.

Less than a week after the death of Chief Wise, the City Council reviewed applications of six potential candidates for Chief.  After some discussion, a 25 year veteran and Captain of the Fresno Police Department was selected.  Ralph Henry “Jack” Wise, who was no relation to the prior Chief, took command of the department on October 1, 1940, and would receive $200 a month compensation.

Six months later, on March 30, 1941, sad new came that Chief Ralph Wise had died from a heart attack.  He was 55 years old.

The City Council didn’t take long before hiring Tracy’s 16th Chief, Evan Calvin Wyman. Chief Wyman was a thirteen year veteran of the Tracy Police Department when appointed Chief on April 1, 1941. Chief Wyman’s career as Chief was one of the longest in Tracy’s history, serving fourteen years.  For unknown reasons, Chief Wyman resigned from his position, just 26 months before he would have been eligible to retire.  

With Chief Wyman’s resignation came the appointment of Captain Wilburn Hamby as Acting Chief.  Acting Chief Hamby led the department for about four months while a new Chief was selected.  That search ended in February 1955 when 30 year old, former FBI Agent and current Santa Clara Police Officer Neil Henry Tremaine was chosen.  After nearly four years as Tracy’s head law enforcement officer, Chief Tremaine resigned on April 1, 1959 to become the first Police Chief of Pacifica.  Also during the month of April 1959, 10 year veteran of the Tracy Police Department, Jerome Lyle Hodges took over as Chief. For the next 14½ years, Chief Hodges ran the department, making him the longest reigning Chief in Tracy’s history. 

Richard H. (Bud) McHale was appointed to the department as a Lieutenant in May 1972.  Formerly with Newark Police Department where he held the position of Sergeant, Lieutenant McHale was hired as Chief of Tracy when Chief Hodges retired on December 1, 1974.

Chief McHale resigned as Chief after only six months, to become the City of Atascadero's police chief.  Once again, the City found itself looking for another police chief.

It took only two months for a new Chief to be chosen, that person being Tracy native Cloyce Linden Brooksher.  Chief Brooksher first joined the Tracy reserve officer program in July 1959 because he wanted to see what police work was like. When he wasn’t volunteering his time as an officer, he worked full time as an assistant manager for Montgomery Wards.  In 1960, he was hired as a full time police officer.  He worked his way through the ranks to the Chief’s badge, becoming a Sergeant in 1963, Lieutenant in 1972, and Chief in 1975. Then for the next 7 ½ years, Chief Brooksher led the department until he was forced to retire in April 1983, due to ill health.

The next Chief was also hired from within the ranks of the Tracy Police Department.  Larry Edward Kissell worked for several years as a Tracy Police Officer and held the rank of Lieutenant when he was selected to run the department in April 1983.  In May of 1992, after over 9 years as Chief, Larry Kissell suffered a heart attack, eventually retiring in September 1992.

In June of 1993, Tracy hired its 22nd police chief, Jared Zwickey.  Chief Zwickey, a former Captain with the Concord Police Department, headed the Tracy Police Department until his resignation in August 1997 to become the Coordinator of Public Safety Programs for Delta College in Stockton.

While the City of Tracy searched for its next police chief, retired Fremont Police Chief Robert “Bob” Wasserman was brought in to assist during the transition.  After a six month search, Timothy Neal was selected to replace Chief Zwickey in December 1997. 

Chief Neal came to Tracy from the City of Mountain View where he held the position of Captain.  After only 18 months as Tracy’s top cop, Chief Neal learned that Pleasanton’s police chief had unexpectedly retired. Chief Neal’s life-long dream was to work in his home town of Pleasanton, and in July of 1999 his dream came true.

After Chief Neal’s departure, Bob Wasserman was invited back to Tracy for a second time to lead the department while a new chief was sought after.

With the new millennium came a new chief.  The second in command of the Oakland Police Department, David L. Krauss was selected as Tracy’s 26th police chief.   After nearly nine years of wearing the Chief's badge, David Krauss retired in October 2008.

In February of 2009, history was made when the City of Tracy hired Janet M. Thiessen, former police chief of Olathe, Kansas and the first woman to hold the same position in Tracy.  For the next 2 ½ years, Chief Thiessen led the department until her resignation in August 2011.

Chief Thiessen’s parting brought the return of a familiar face to the department. Ten years earlier, then Captain Gary Hampton left Tracy to become the Chief of Oakdale, then most recently, Chief of Turlock.  On August 15, 2011, Gary Hampton returned to Tracy to take command of the department.  On September 6, 2011 Gary Hampton was officially sworn in as Tracy’s 27th Chief of Police, a position he held until his retirement in March of 2016.

After a nationwide search for a new police chief, the City of Tracy selected Larry Esquivel.  In March of 2016, Chief Esquivel was sworn in as Tracy's 28th police chief.  Chief Esquivel had recently retired after 30 years of service with the San Jose Police Department, where he served as San Jose's Chief for several years.  Chief Esquivel is the current Chief of Police for the City of Tracy.

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