MENASHA (NBC 26) — January 3rd holds a new beginning for current Menasha police chief Tim Styka.
“I started in 1996, the same day that I'll be retired,” Styka said.
Years ago, he may not have believed he’d be sitting in the chair that he is now.
“It was something that I had always thought about doing but was never really serious about it," Styka said. "And my parents weren't exactly excited, me taking a riskier thing. When I went to college, I actually graduated with a business degree and my path just kind of everything fell into place and I ended up getting hired here.”
His dream came true.
Under his leadership, the department implemented the elementary liaison program, and formed relationships with the school district and Boys and Girls Club. Overall, crime rates are down significantly — the lowest they've been in decades.
Now, 27 years later, it’s time for something new.
“It's been a blessing to be in this job as long as I have, and I've done the things that I've set out to accomplish,” Styka said.
We spent some time reflecting with his wife.
“I was so proud of him when he got the position as chief," said Chanin Styka. "Again, this is a city that I grew up in and when he got the position, the first thing my grandma said was ‘I’m so happy that you’re going to be taking care of us.'"
As for the whole family, growing up with dad in the uniform was a blessing.
“A lot of people say working in law enforcement isn’t great for family life, it has been absolutely fantastic for our family life,” Chanin said. “They didn’t know anything different other than dad was a police officer. What they did know was that because dad worked some weekends, and had days off and it always rotated, on his days off, they got to stay home with dad.”
However, there were times when the job took a toll on the family. They vividly remember May 3rd of 2015, when a gunman opened fire on the Trestle Trail Bridge killing three and injuring several others.
“He hit the lights and sirens and my daughter came running down the stairs screaming ‘I don’t want my dad to die, I don’t want my dad to die’ and I have to say, as I was holding her with one arm and we’re kind of watching him drive away, I think it really hit us how this could be an unsafe profession,” Chanin said.
It was a life-changing time for members of the community.
Chanin and Tim Styka's son went on to join the military, and their daughter became a teacher.
“Both of them followed in his footsteps as far as their service to the community,” Chanin said.
Although the Menasha police chief is leaving this department, in a way, he’s staying in law enforcement by taking on a new role.
“I'm working for a company called C.V.M.I.C., which is an insurance company that is owned by a bunch of the municipalities in Wisconsin — Menasha being one of them," Tim Styka said. "And it's a position where I'll be kind of a liaison to the law enforcement.”
Tim Styka said he’s proud of the ways the department has grown in his time here.
“A lot of my heart and soul I think has gone into it,” he said. “You know, anytime that you're a part of an organization for a period of time, there's a piece of you that goes into it. And truly, I care about the people here.”
He thinks the department will be in great hands under the new chief, Lt. Nick Thorn.
“Knowing that he will go through a very exciting learning experience, understanding what this job is, is just fascinating and it's a great challenge,” Tim Styka said
Thorn said he hopes to be a chief like Styka.
“Chief Styka has been a good mentor and he has a lot of wisdom," Thorn said. "He’s been one of the progressive leaders in law enforcement in the Fox Valley and I aspire to continue that with our department.”
Thorn will succeed Styka on Jan. 3, 2023.