The American Canyon City Council greeted to its new police chief and bid farewell to its former one Tuesday night in separate ceremonies before a packed audience at City Hall.

Outgoing Police Chief Tracey Stuart was honored with a proclamation for her four years of running the American Canyon Police Department, while Lt. Oscar Ortiz was officially welcomed as the city’s new police chief.

“You’re in outstanding hands with Chief Ortiz,” Stuart told the council.

In an interview outside the council chambers, Stuart said Ortiz was “the perfect selection” to replace her.

“He’s one of the smartest people,” Stuart said. “He’s got a great personality for dealing with both the community and the officers.”

“He’ll bring new ideas and new blood. Change is sometimes good, and I think Oscar’s going to bring great change.”

Stuart was the first woman to lead the American Canyon Police Department, serving as chief since 2013. She is retiring after 22 years with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, which provides officers and commanders to American Canyon through a contract with the city.

Ortiz has been with the Sheriff’s Department since 1996, and was most recently head of the Investigation’s Unit. He will be promoted to captain at the end of the year.

“I was definitely excited and humbled” when I found out I would be the next police chief, said Ortiz. “I’ve been telling people I have a healthy level of nervousness.”

As chief he will oversee a department of 24 officers, plus three other personnel.

Ortiz began his law enforcement career in 1991 at age 20 working at the Napa County jail. Born in Los Angeles County, he moved to Napa when he was 4 years old.

He is a graduate of Vintage High School, and is married with three children – his oldest son is a Navy corpsman currently serving in Iraq with the Marine Corps.

In his off hours, Ortiz coaches boxing through the Sheriff’s Activity League. “It’s my hobby and what I like to do in my spare time,” he said.

Ortiz competed as a boxer in police Olympics when he was younger, and has been coaching boxers for 17 years.

After Stuart decided to retire, Napa County Sheriff John Robertson recommended two police chief candidates to the City Council for consideration.

On Nov. 13, a three-member special council subcommittee consisting of Mayor Leon Garcia and Councilmembers Kenneth Leary and David Oro interviewed the candidates. The subcommittee unanimously recommended Ortiz as the next chief.

Stuart succeeded Jean Donaldson, who was promoted to undersheriff. Other prior police chiefs were Brian Banducci, who returned to the Sheriff’s Office and became undersheriff, and Doug Koford, who left to become sheriff of Napa County.

A 1985 Napa High School graduate, Stuart started her career as a reserve peace officer with the Calistoga Police Department. In 1989, she became a full-time officer in Calistoga and worked there for six more years.

She began working for the Sheriff’s Office in 1995. She was promoted to sergeant in 1998 and to lieutenant in 2007.

Stuart plans to move to Oregon after her retirement, which becomes official on Dec. 30.

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