Sgt. Michael Imhof handles just about everything for Coal City police

Sgt. Michael Imhof after receiving his promotion in December.

Sgt. Michael Imhof has done just about everything there is to do with the Coal City Police Department, and he’s recently been promoted to be the department’s only sergeant.

Imhof has been with the department for 15 years. In that time, he’s been a school resource officer, run patrols, done maintenance for the vehicles, been the taser instructor and a field training officer. While still doing many of these jobs, he’s now working on the administrative side as a supervisor, using his experience as the former chief of police in Wilmington.

“It’s kind of like shaking the cobwebs off a little bit here and there, just remembering what it was all about,” Imhof said. “It’s a good thing because I’ve seen all aspects of the job. I’ve been a new recruit and worked my way up at this department and in Wilmington. I’ve been at the beginning, and I’ve been in the status of the chief position and everything in between. I was even a detective at one point.”

Imhof uses this knowledge to step in wherever he’s needed, but his favorite place to help is in schools. He’s been the resource officer at Coal City High School, and he fondly remembers his five years there.

“It was a perfect fit for me at the time because I had teenagers, my boys, at home,” Imhof said. “It helped me relate to them and relate to the other students. I enjoyed it.”

Coal City police Chief Chris Harseim said Imhof has been an asset to the department since his start part time 15 years ago, and admits pulling Imhof out of the high school was a tough decision to make. The district loved having him there, and Imhof did a wonderful job with the kids.

Imhof said he still has contacts with the district, and he enjoys knowing that the kids know him and trust him. It allowed him to be a mentor figure to the students and showed him how to be a better leader within the department.

“I knew Mike was destined to be a supervisor here, just based on his knowledge and demeanor,” Harseim said. “Everybody respects and likes Mike. He’s a great officer, and he fills every void I need.”

Now, he spends a lot of time overseeing the department and doing everything he can to help the younger officers become better in the future.

“It opened my eyes to a lot of the things police officers don’t always see in the streets,” Imhof said. “Student life has different issues that you might not see outside of school. I was able to help them out, and it was about building a bridge, building relationships in order to be a mentor to that one student who might look up to you. I’m not there to bust people or get people in trouble.”

Imhof joked that his time at the school means he has 700 snitches willing to talk to him, and most of the time, they’re just telling him their stories.

“It’s not good kids or bad kids,” Imhof said. “They just want to tell me what they did over the weekend. If it was something illegal, I’d just let them know they need to be careful. I’m not getting them in trouble. I’m a resource they can use, and I can help them out if they need it. Like if they have an addiction, I can make connections, and they can speak to me even if I’m wearing a badge.”

Harseim said Imhof’s leadership shows at the station, and he’s a jack of all trades. He fills in wherever he’s needed.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand that in a small department, I don’t have three secretaries,” Harseim said. “I have one great secretary, but we wear a lot of hats here. Everybody’s cross-trained and has two or three different billets they share together.”

My wife always asks when I’m going to slow down, when am I going to stop? But I enjoy it, and it keeps me young. I always want to be doing something for the community I live in.”

—  Sgt. Michael Imhof, Coal City Police Department

He said Imhof picks up whatever’s needed and takes the bull by the horns, and he hasn’t missed a beat since he was promoted in December.

“He’s mild mannered and a critical thinker,” Harseim said. “We don’t fly off the handle. We think things through, and he’s always bouncing ideas off me. Some are great, some aren’t, but we at least have someone who is opening up and sharing their thoughts. He wants this place to succeed, and he wants the young guys to stay here. We don’t want Coal City to be a building block for other places, and he’s a big part of that.”

Imhof spends the time when he’s not working with his wife and his boys. This includes deer hunting, pheasant hunting and turkey hunting, but he also donates a lot of his time. He has been the president of a football club for about 10 years, raising money and making sure the kids have a way to stay active while he keeps himself active.

“My wife always asks when I’m going to slow down, when am I going to stop?” Imhof said. “But I enjoy it, and it keeps me young. I always want to be doing something for the community I live in.”

Harseim said if he could have a whole department like Sgt. Imhof, Coal City would have the best, most reliable department in Illinois.

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Grundy County and the City of Morris, Coal City, Minooka, and more for the Morris Herald-News