A Washougal police sergeant who has retired after a 35-year career in law enforcement said he’d wanted to be a police officer ever since he was a child.
“Somewhere it’s got to end,” said Brad Chicks, 58, adding that he could have worked a lot longer since he loves the job. “I could still work. It’s just time. I love the officers I work with. I’m going to miss them the most.”
Chicks’ coworkers and family members celebrated his retirement with cake and coffee at the Washougal Police Department (WPD) station on Nov. 20.
Washougal Police Chief Ron Mitchell said he was happy for Chicks.
“I know there are a lot of activities, such as hiking, hunting and spending more time with his family, that he’s looking forward to,” Mitchell said.
Chicks, a graduate of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Academy, began his career in law enforcement as a reserve officer with the Ridgefield Police Department in January of 1982.
He was hired as a Ridgefield police officer in July of 1982, and he graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy, in Burien, Washington, in January 1983.
Chicks served as the acting chief of the Ridgefield Police Department from October 1982 through May 1983.
He was hired as a patrolman by the Washougal Police Department in July 1983.
Chicks recalls the WPD having six officers, including the chief, at that time, and the city’s population was between 3,000 and 4,000.
“It was not uncommon for an officer to be by himself, with help from Camas,” he said.
Officers from Camas and Washougal assisted each other, as needed.
“There were more taverns, a lot of fights and disturbances in the bars and DUIs,” Chicks said, regarding crime in Washougal in the 1980s.
Now the WPD has 18 officers, and the population is 15,760. The WPD has minimum staffing of two officers, up to four or five, per shift.
Chicks said working in law enforcement can involve some very difficult times.
“Drugs, addictions and mental illnesses have made our contacts with people more unpredictable and more violent at times,” he said. “A lot of the mental illness is created by the drug problem. That’s my opinion. Law enforcement has to deal with it.”
“People are more unpredictable, and the propensity toward violence is over the top,” Chicks added.
He was promoted to patrol sergeant in May 1990.
Chicks worked investigations for about 15 years, starting in 1994, and his “specialities” included investigations of child abuse, deaths and major crimes.
“I worked several homicides, hundreds of child abuse cases, internal affairs investigations and death investigations,” he said.
The investigations involved Chicks traveling to Northwestern Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
“I love what I do,” Chicks said. “I feel like I’ve made a difference, saved lives and helped families.”
He recalls investigating horrible child abuse cases.
“I have always tried to stay focused on the best I can do for the victims and their families. The whole family unit is devastated. It’s a lot of work, and there are emotional ups and downs.”
Chicks said he has cried many tears on those child abuse cases.
“I have a passion for that,” he said. “I love people and kids. I’m not sure if it was a calling. I took it very seriously. I have been truly blessed to do what I’ve done.”
Chicks received a silver award from the state for traffic safety enforcement in 1988. That involved him stopping 105 people driving under the influence in four months during the graveyard shift.
Chicks went back on the road as a patrol sergeant in October 2010, and he continued in that role until his retirement.
Retirement plans include hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
Chicks said his five grandsons will keep him busy during his retirement.
His bucket list includes hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada.
“I would like to do the whole thing, but I will work on Washington, Oregon and northern California,” Chicks said. “I would not want to be away from the family for that long. I could hike sections (of the trail) two to three weeks at a time.”
He already hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail with a friend who has since died.
“I’ve got all my gear,” Chicks said. “I just need the time.”
He also plans to go fishing, hunting, camping and traveling during his retirement.
Chicks wants to spend more time with his parents, Gene and Pat Chicks, of Ridgefield.
“They have been very supportive over the years,” Brad said.
His family also includes his wife, Denise Chicks, two daughters, one son and five grandsons. Their son, Bradley Chicks Jr., is a Washington State Patrol trooper in the Vancouver area.
One of their daughters, Julie Hatcher, is married to Luke Hatcher, a corrections officer at the Clark County Jail.
Chicks, who has built houses, is not sure if he will get another job.
He said he is fortunate to have an extremely supportive spouse.
“We’ve been through alot together,” Chicks said. “Without her, it probably would not have been as long or successful a career.”
“She is my confidant, and she has been a very good judge of character over the years,” he added. “I can’t say she was ever wrong. She gave me advice over the years, and it was usually spot on.”