FOX RIVER GROVE – Fox River Grove Police Chief Ron Lukasik considers himself lucky for applying for an opening as a police dispatcher when he was 19 years old, because it launched his career in law enforcement.
Lukasik started with the Lake Zurich Police Department as a dispatcher, graduated from the Hawthorn Woods Police Department’s police academy and served as an officer in Lakewood before starting with the Fox River Grove Police Department in 1992.
Twenty-five years later, Lukasik, 50, will cap his decade as chief in Fox River Grove. Lukasik said he’s ready for new challenges, but will look back fondly on his years serving the village.
“One of the things that people ask me is why have I stayed in Fox River Grove for 25 years. Why didn’t I go someplace else with more money?” Lukasik said. “One of the things – and it took me years to figure this out – one of the things that dawned on me, from the age of 10 to 14 I lived in a town in North Carolina. Fox River Grove reminds me [of] certain aspects of that community.”
Aside from his sentimental feelings for Fox River Grove, Lukasik said he stayed because over time, he grew to love the community and his job.
When he first starting dispatching, Lukasik said he was hooked on the atmosphere of the job. Every day he would go into work and not know what the day was going to bring.
“You could be dealing with a domestic situation and somebody’s in need, and that can take the majority of your day helping them out, getting them in the right direction,” Lukasik said. “You could go in on a particular day and you could be investigating something that is not even related to something domestic.”
Lukasik said he enjoyed continually moving and adapting to knew situations throughout his day, which likely is why law enforcement dominated much of his life.
“I’m definitely going to miss the officers, the co-workers,” Lukasik said. “You establish relationships with the officers and the village staff, the community. I have relationships with [people] in town, so I’m going to miss that.”
Shortly after he was promoted to police chief in Fox River Grove, Lukasik hired Sgt. Eric Waitrovich.
“[Lukasik is] easy to work for,” Waitrovich said. “He’s not overbearing. He trusts the officers to do the job they’ve been trained to do. There’s no micromanagement from him. He gives us the empowerment to do our jobs.”
Fox River Grove Village Clerk Barbara Majkrzak has worked with Lukasik since she started working for the village 18 years ago.
“I know we’re going to miss him,” Majkrzak said. “He’s been a really good police chief, and he really cares about the residents, so he’s going to be missed. I’m happy he’s going to start a different stage in his life.”
Waitrovich said Lukasik and his wife, Karen, always were active with McHenry County’s Shop with a Cop program. Lukasik also started the department’s Cop on a Rooftop fundraiser, which benefits Special Olympics Illinois.
Lukasik said his plans for retirement are wide open at the moment, besides planning to spend time with his family. He said he’d be willing to take on a new challenge if something sparks his interest.
“I personally love Fox River Grove,” Lukasik said. “I would always say Fox River Grove is a special place with special people. It’s small, and you have a lot of community involvement, which I like. It’s just a good community.”
Fox River Grove Village Administrator Derek Soderholm said the application period for the police chief position closed Friday, and the village received a total of 20 applications.
Soderholm said a new chief will be chosen by Sept. 1, which is Lukasik’s last day.