This unit typically operated in a covert manner to gather evidence and witnesses in order to build their cases. The OCU adopted a more prominent approach in the wake of several attempts on the life of Dick Tracy as a result of the Open Contract placed on him by Big Boy. Tracy publicly announced that he would assume command of the OCU to bring the Apparatus to justice. Tracy stressed the severity of the situation to newspaper reporter Wendy Wichel, who conveyed this to her readership.
This move drew protest from Inspector Price, the current head of the OCU, who claimed that he and his unit were effective without Tracy. That claim was proven invalid when Det. Lizz Worthington Grove examined the records of the OCU and found that the only arrests and convictions gained by the OCU under Price's leadership were all minor criminals.
While Tracy learned that his announcement had had the desired effect of encouraging the Apparatus to stop the murder attempts, his difficulties with Price continued. That friction increased when a potential state witness for the OCU against the Apparatus was murdered by the professional killer known as The Iceman. Price blamed Tracy's involvement in the case for escalating the violence.
Tracy disagreed and suspected that the poor results of the OCU and lack of protection for the witness suggested corruption. Tracy had his trusted colleagues Sam Catchem and Lizz investigate. They suspected two members of the OCU (Gold and Wynn) of corruption but found no corroborating evidence.
During a failed attempt to kill Tracy, the Iceman was seriously wounded and taken into custody. The hitman revealed that he had been hired by Big Boy to kill Tracy, and that he had previously been hired by Inspector Price to kill the state witness. The Iceman died of his wounds and Price was subsequently arrested.
Tracy later relinquished command of the OCU to a new leader and he returned to the Major Crimes Unit.