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In the third season, the relationship between Nick's partner Det. Tracy Vetter and her father became an ongoing minor subplot in the series, usually treated as a running gag.

Tracy's father, Richard Vetter, is a former senior police officer who is now on the Police Commission. During the course of his career, he saw nothing wrong in bending rules to achieve his goals. This involved closing cases, covering for colleagues, and furthering the careers of those who were his protegés, such as Bruce Spencer. His attitude hasn't changed with his promotion to Commissioner. And no one's career matters more to him than that of his daughter Tracy.

Tracy, on the other hand, wants very much to make her own career unaided by nepotism. She is acutely sensitive to aspersions regarding her father's influence on her early promotion to the rank of Detective and her assignment to the plum Homicide job.
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Tracy uses her father's name to get herself into the restricted hangar in "Black Buddha Pt. 1".

Having said this, she does not remain uninfluenced by her father's attitudes. Thus, in "Black Buddha Pt. 1", she used her familial connection to the Police Commission to get into a restricted area of the airport after the bomb explosion that killed Nick's first partner Don Schanke.

Tracy's father was never seen on camera during the course of the series. Like Myra Schanke in Seasons One and Two, he was an off-scene, never seen, always important influence on the life of a major character in the show; and it is fair to say that the relationship between Tracy and her father functionally substitutes for that between Schanke and Myra.

For the most part, therefore, Tracy's father was mentioned in minor scenes intended to develop character—not just hers, but also that of her ambitious boss, Capt. Joe Reese. As a result, he probably worries more about her than he would any other detective under his command.

  • In "Black Buddha Pt. 2", when Tracy is held captive by Vachon and Screed, Reese doesn't want to try to find her by phoning her father's house lest the Commissioner learn that he's misplaced his daughter.
  • In "Trophy Girl", when she goes undercover without authorization and her abandoned car is discovered, Reese hopes she is found soon so he won't have to tell her father.
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Commissioner Vetter arranged his daughter's reassignment in "Strings" without asking her.

In only one episode, "Strings", did the relationship between Tracy and her father play a significant role in the plot. In that episode, Commissioner Vetter decided that even Homicide lacked the opportunities for quick promotion offered by the Forensic Accounting Department. He arranged for Tracy's transfer without consulting her. Although initially she took the job (and used it to find evidence in a murder case), her father's high-handedness did finally cause her to balk at his manipulation of her career, and she transferred back to Homicide.

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