It is a career that has spanned 37 years, most of it spent as a member of the Riverside police force. When Tom Weitzel joined the Riverside Police Department he was coming from a position at the Brookfield Zoo. The River Forest native couldn’t have guessed at the time that he had found a new in Riverside and would eventually be named chief in 2008.
So it was a solemn but well deserved occasion on May 20, when surrounded by his family, members of his force and village officials that Tom Weitzel officially retired from the job to which he had given so much.
As Village President Joe Ballerine read a proclamation, which told of the many accomplishments of the chief during his tenure, a somber and almost emotional Weitzel took to the microphone to say his thanks.
As with many ceremonies of this type, there is much to be said that cannot be engraved on a plaque. I have known Tom Weitzel for all his years in Riverside and have seen him grow under during his career to the betterment of the department and the village.
Tom was often ahead of his time. He survived being shot in 1987 after two years on the force, because he wore a bulletproof vest – one of the few to do so at the time. He was a big proponent of police having proper gear for survival during the course of duty.
I had cause to interact with the chief many times throughout the years through events I was involved with. Whenever I made a call to the chief, I always received a response.
He didn’t hesitate when I called him to be a guest on my television show “Koffee with Kosey” on RBTV. Our interview was fun, enlightening and he was open to answer any question I asked. It was one of my favorite interviews. He did not hold back recognizing Riverside is a different town now then it was when he first started.
Tom has left the department in good shape and in the capable hands of Matt Buckley, but I will miss seeing him around. I hope his future plans include visits to Riverside and hopefully a cup of “coffee with Kosey.” Good luck and thanks, my friend, for a job well done.