Holyoke Police Chief David Pratt announces he will retire this summer after 31 years on the department.

Reminder Publishing photo by Trent Levakis

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Police Chief David Pratt has notified the city and the public that after 31 years of service he will retire, effective July 31.

“It’s time, I’m ready. I’ve had a great career,” Pratt said.

The announcement came during a May 3 press conference inside Holyoke Media where Mayor Joshua Garcia led the announcement and thanked Pratt for his service to the city.

“It has been a real privilege to work with Chief Pratt who started the role of chief just a few short months before I assumed office. In our two and a half years of collaboration I have found Chief Pratt to be forthright and extremely compassionate. It has been an honor to work together with Pratt and also to getting to know him as a human being,” Garcia said.

Pratt joined the department in 1993 and rose to supervisory ranks in 1999 before becoming captain in 2011. He has been commander of operations and criminal investigations and led the Holyoke school resource officer program. Pratt was named chief by former Mayor Alex Morse in 2021.

Pratt said Garcia has been a strong partner for the Police Department as well as himself.

“He’s helped me make the improvements I’ve tried to make. We talked very early on. He was great when he came in,” Pratt said. “We had a great conversation one day I remember right out on High Street, and we just said we’re going to do small things, and when we look back we’ll see how all those add up and I think we’ve done that.”

Pratt also credited Garcia for his help with the department’s improvements in technology and infrastructure. He also said staffing levels have improved, which helps the department do more for its citizens.

“I thank Chief Pratt for embracing my leadership in this mayoral role and welcoming me. The job of chief is hard and so is being the mayor, and I so much appreciate the relationship we had that helped navigate our challenges and improve services,” Garcia said.

Capt. Isaias Cruz will assume the role of interim chief. Cruz served in the military and has been with the department in various roles for 30 years. A Holyoke native, Cruz speaks English and Spanish and encouraged Spanish only speakers to know he is available to speak on any concerns or issues.

“I’m confident this will be a smooth transition,” Cruz said. “Thank you for this opportunity and be rest assured that the department will be in good hands with me as the department head.”

Pratt added he has faith in Cruz and said the city was in good hands as the transition period is set to get underway.

Pratt said that he and Garcia had already begun discussions to strategize the best transition plan for the city. Garcia assured residents work is already in motion to find Holyoke’s newest police chief and introduced the Police Relations Advisory Committee that will lead the search for a replacement. They already had been considered in the decision to choose Cruz as interim chief.

Garcia added that for the past two and a half years of his time as mayor he has met monthly with the police relations committee, something formed by previous Mayor Terence Murphy. The committee will work with Garcia to identify what the city wants from its next police chief. He added he will ultimately decide the choice between three final candidates chosen by the committee.

Soon Garcia will propose to the City Council the hiring of an external agency that would assist in the search. The process could span three to six months and would consider candidates nationwide, Garcia added.

“I’m flexible, but I want this committee to work together and help us try to figure out what are the qualities that we want on that achievement, what are the criteria that we’re looking for,” Garcia said. “The process that we’re putting together is from the bottom up and middle out to get us that candidate that is the best choice.”

Pratt in closing said he had “complete faith” in the upcoming transition plan.

“It makes me feel good about leaving because I know that things are going to be in good hands,” Pratt said. “I’ll be right here until [July 31] doing everything I can to ensure that.”