Manhattan police chief retires for a 2nd time

‘It’s an awesome police department,’ police chief says

Manhattan Police Chief Jeff Wold poses for a photo. Chief Wold is set to retire in July.

Jeff Wold is retiring for yet a second time as police chief, this time from Manhattan, although it may not spell the final chapter of his career in law enforcement.

Wold first began his career with the Channahon Police Department in 1995 as a patrolman and rose through the ranks to become its chief in 2011. After about six years in that role, he retired as the Channahon police chief and moved on to another career before he decided to lead the Manhattan Police Department in 2021.

It’s an awesome police department and it’s a great village board to work with. It was refreshing to come here and have everyone so focused on doing a good job. There wasn’t a lot of drama or infighting.”

—  Jeff Wold, Manhattan police chief

Now, after two years, Wold will retire again, with his last day on June 30.

While Wold is leaving his police career behind, he said he still plans to do something related to law enforcement on a part-time basis, such as teaching or working in the police accreditation industry.

Wold said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family, his health and traveling more. He said the work of a police chief today requires availability at all hours of the day, with a lot of time spent working on nights, weekends and responding to last-minute incidents.

“I won’t get miss getting called in the middle of the night for a critical incident, but I will miss the people I worked with,” Wold said.

Manhattan village officials said Wold has been “instrumental in strengthening the Manhattan Police Department and bringing in top-notch officers while providing leadership to better serve the community.”

“I personally have enjoyed working with Chief Wold and he has accomplished many great things in the short time he has been with Manhattan,” Manhattan Mayor Mike Adrieansen said in a statement.

During Wold’s time working for police departments, he said the biggest changes he’s seen has been the legalization of marijuana and concealed carry for firearms. He said that when he first began his career marijuana in “any shape or form was illegal.”

“Now, obviously marijuana is legal for recreational use. That was a big change,” Wold said.

Another change Wold has seen was the passage of the criminal justice reform law known as the SAFE-T Act. He said the law has changed police training and required the implementation of body cameras.

“We’re trying to implement that now or at least within this budget year,” Wold said of body cameras.

Wold said he doesn’t agree with everything in the SAFE-T Act, such as the controversial abolition of cash bail for criminal defendants. He said there were also some changes in police procedures he didn’t agree with as well.

“But nothing was so hard to comply with that we couldn’t change to do it,” Wold said.

As far as high-profile cases handled by the Manhattan Police Department, Wold cited the investigation into the disappearance of Anthony Fehrenbacher, 47, of Manhattan, who was last seen on May 26. Wold said it was himself, two commanders and a detective who scoured the area and rifled through phone and bank records in search of Fehrenbacher.

“We were investigating for the worst possible scenario and hoping for the best possible scenario,” Wold said.

Unfortunately, Fehrenbacher turned up dead on June 10 just outside Coal City.

“That was a shock to all of us,” Wold said.

Wold also noted investigations that led to charges against Justin Wolff, 42, who’s accused of using false information to obtain a $35,000 loan and charges against three women accused of stealing more than $100,000 in gift cards from their employer.

Wold said last year, his officers arrested Abraham Aboma, 37, after he was suspected of using Manhattan residents’ identification to obtain home equity loans. Aboma pleaded guilty May 12 to possession of fraudulent identification.

Among Wold’s accomplishments as Manhattan’s police chief was the hiring of seven full-time officers, the creation of a chain of command with two commanders and two sergeants and the implementation of a school resource officer program.

Wold said he loves the people in Manhattan.

“It’s an awesome police department and it’s a great village board to work with. It was refreshing to come here and have everyone so focused on doing a good job. There wasn’t a lot of drama or infighting,” Wold said.