Policing paradise: Deputy a natural fit for Captiva
When Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ed Waite, 56, retired from his position on Captiva, his replacement, Deputy Chris Lusk, was a natural fit.
The Lusk family name is synonymous with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, with a long line of Lusks filling the ranks in the agency, including Chris’ father, David, who has given over 30 years of service.
“I was born in Lee County and my dad has worked for the Sheriff’s office for 30 years and I have an aunt and cousins who work in the agency,” Lusk said. “It’s a pretty unique thing having a family work for one big agency like that for that long.”
Lusk has worked for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office wearing many different hats, while wrapping up his 15th year of service to the department.
He started his law enforcement career after high school when he inspected area schools’ security and safety equipment, through the Safe School’s Grant.
From there, he was hired on by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office as a road patrol deputy in 2001-02. He moved on to be a school resource officer, a gang recognition officer, a K9 handler and also a domestic violence deputy.
But it was his time being the school resource officer where he felt he gained his most valuable experience and knowledge.
“My dad has worked as a school resource officer for over 20 years and he really enjoys that,” Lusk said. “Being a school resource officer helps you learn how to build relationships and connect with people. I helped create programs and teaching programs for the kids, so that was invaluable experience.”
Lusk will be one of two deputies on the island along with Deputy Joe Caizza and officer Mike Sawicki, who is the high-ranking Deputy on the islands.
His time on Captiva will be similar to his time as a school resource officer, in that there are opportunities to form interpersonal relationships, instead of just practicing law enforcement.
That was the attraction for Lusk.
“I grew up watching the joy my dad always had going to the school and the personal relationship he built with the community,” Lusk said. “That’s what I wanted too, and that’s why I like it out here. Being on Captiva involves community policing and getting out of car meeting business owners and residents.”
With the lower volume of calls coming into Captiva, there is time to forge relationships with community members, which is an integral duty of the Deputy who lives out on the island.
But also knowing the area well is important, because it’s not just Captiva which is in Lusk’s jurisdiction, but also the five barrier islands, as well.
“I grew up here and I know how to move around the water,” Lusk said. “It’s an area I am very familiar with, so I knew what to expect coming out here. I believe it helped (getting the job).”
Lusk moved into the designated house behind the Captiva Library for Lee County Sheriff’s Office Deputies, along with his wife, Jennifer, and two kids, Kylie and David.
Having the advantage of living in the community you work in, was another appealing factor for Lusk to pursue the job on Captiva.
“There is a big advantage living in the community for all sides,” Lusk said. “The big advantage for me is that being on call 24 hours a day, you learn what the community needs. Both Joe (Caizza) and I know what’s happening here anytime.”
Jennifer, who grew up in Cape Coral, works off-island as a teacher at Tanglewood Elementary in Fort Myers, where each of David and Kylie attend, as well.
The move out to Captiva has been smooth and one which the transition was quite easy.
“It’s a beautiful and peaceful drive to work, so I don’t mind that at all,” Jennifer said. “It’s been paradise, I count my blessing every day. Our kids also get to grow up in such a culturally diverse environment, as well.”
The 35-year-old Lusk agreed the living arrangements are a huge benefit of the job.
“We were both born here and we knew what we were getting into,” Lusk said. “There were no surprises for us when we moved out here. Right now, I don’t see myself anywhere else. I like the connection to the community and I believe in the concept of community and that is also important to the Sheriff’s Office.
“My goal is to keep that going and build on it.”