There are many public servants that work hard every day to help keep our community safe. Chuck Liska is a police officer with the Tumwater Police Department and loves being able to make a difference in his hometown. His career in law enforcement has given him many opportunities to connect with the community and find ways to make Tumwater a great place to be.
When Chuck was a student at Washington Middle School, Sergeant Nelson from the Olympia Police Department spoke as part of the D.A.R.E. program. “I loved his approach to life and how open he was about the job,” Chuck says. “He talked a lot about this being his community and wanting it to be the best that it could be.” Chuck started turning his attention to that and focusing on law enforcement as a possible career. He pursued a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice through Washington State University and finished it at Florida State University before starting out in the field. Chuck worked in Bellingham and Federal Way before finally landing in Tumwater in 2005.
Chuck is celebrating his 23rd year as a police officer and has been grateful for the wonderful experiences he has had along the way. Chuck had the unique opportunity to work as a school resource officer for the Tumwater School District from 2011 to 2017, where he worked closely with all of the schools in the district on school safety issues and student welfare. “The best times in my career were working with those students,” Chuck says. “The focus was always to find ways to bring about a positive, welcoming, and inclusive climate and culture at the school because that is what makes them safe.” For Chuck, the difference came from helping kids feel connected to their school and to each other because this fostered a deep sense of community that led to a safer environment for everyone.
Chuck’s time as the school resource officer really shaped his perspective and allowed him to connect with the community in a different way. “In patrol you go and resolve immediate issues the best you can, but at the schools I was able to really engage and interact with families,” he says. He was able to develop long-term relationships with the students and their families and learn what their needs were. Chuck worked hard to find resources for problems both big and small to help make their lives better. Through this role, he was able to give a lot back to the community.
Chuck was later promoted to the position of patrol sergeant and has really enjoyed infusing this experience into his training and work today. “I share my experiences with the new officers to help them expand on it and learn from it,” he says. One of the biggest takeaways for Chuck is the importance of being a positive role model in the community and doing everything possible to help those in need. “As a public servant I work for the people I am helping,” Chuck says, “I want them to find value in what I do and that comes with treating others how you want to be treated.”
Serving the community in this capacity comes with its own set of challenges, but for Chuck it is worth it to serve his hometown of Tumwater. Even when bad things happen, he strives to be a support and take as much of the burden away as possible. “My job is to help those that cannot help themselves and get them what they need to be safe and sound physically, mentally and emotionally,” he says. To accomplish this, Chuck has made it a priority to find as many ways as possible to connect with local community partners that can provide the necessary resources to help those in need.
Throughout his career, Chuck has had the continued support of his wife Tamara and four children. Despite its challenges, his family has always been extremely supportive of his desire to work in law enforcement and make a difference. “It is really nice having that because it is not always the case,” he says. His kids have only known Chuck as a cop, and through that they have been able to see the human side of law enforcement that many people don’t see. He recognizes how important it is to be a positive role model to his own family and to those in the community to uphold the idea that his job is to serve and protect those around him the best he can.
Chuck has loved his job from the start and feels grateful to have had such wonderful experiences along the way. It has given him the perfect way to make a difference in the community he loves. “If you are looking for a way to make a positive impact, this job gives you a way to be part of that,” Chuck says. “You can help shape the community how you want it to make it safe and strong.” For Chuck, this role has opened up his means of actually enacting change and making Tumwater a better place to be.
Public servants like Chuck sacrifice a huge part of their lives to keep our community happy, healthy, and thriving. We are lucky to have Chuck and many others living in and serving our wonderful community. If you know someone in public service, be sure to thank them!