At the age of 16, Jeff Weiss’s passion for law enforcement was ignited during a ride-along with a Meridian Township officer. Now, after a remarkable 35-year career, that same teenager who once aspired to serve and protect the city he grew up in has been appointed as Williamston’s new Chief of Police.
On Sept. 11, the Williamston City Council appointed Weiss to fill the position, which had been vacant since January. The decision was met with enthusiastic approval.
“He is very familiar with the inner workings of our city, he understands our process,” outgoing Williamston Mayor Tammy Gilroy said. “He comes with such an amazing resume. We are very lucky to have him… and I think he’s got a great plan ahead for our department.”
Williamston Police Department’s transition to Chief Weiss follows a lineage of leaders including Bob Young in 2010 and Jim Wolf in 2021. Young temporarily returned as interim chief before Weiss’s appointment.
“I liked working for them all,” said Vonnie Green, the police support specialist and executive administrative assistant for the Williamston Police Department. “It’s been only a few days [with Weiss], but so far it’s been great. I think we’re gonna be a great team.”
Weiss’s Passion for Policing
“The ride-along put the hook into me,” Weiss recalled. “Ever since I wanted to be in law enforcement.”
His early passion for policing led him to become a Williamston reserve officer shortly after graduating from Williamston High School in 1987. He continued his education, graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in criminal justice in 1993.
Weiss’s experience in law enforcement is deeply entwined with his connection to the city of Williamston. Born and raised in the city, Weiss expressed his love for the community, its small yet eclectic population and the local establishments like the theater and restaurants.
“It was always my goal to be the chief at the Williamston Police Department,” Weiss said. “It’s where I started and it’s where I’m going to end.”
Throughout his career, Weiss held various roles, from serving as a reserve officer and part-time officer in Williamston to holding positions at the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office. He also served as the emergency manager for Shiawassee County and as the part-time police chief in the village of Lennon.
In his experience as a deputy, he worked in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Unit, the Traffic Unit, the Marine Unit, the Transport Unit, the Court Security Unit and Corrections and Patrol. As a sergeant, he supervised the K9 unit, the Traffic Unit, the County Patrol Division, the Corrections Division and he served as an Emergency Manager. Additionally, he’s worked as an instructor at the Police Academy. He believes this diverse experience contributes to his effectiveness as a chief.
“You take everything together and it just makes a well-rounded chief,” he noted.
Future Plans as the Chief
Weiss said that he is committed to continuing the legacy of his predecessors by maintaining strong community relations and upholding the department’s outstanding record of professionalism.
“What Bob, Jim and the past chiefs before them have built up, I want to keep that going,” Weiss said. “And I have my own goals that I’d like to fulfill.”
Weiss’s immediate goals include revitalizing “National Night Out,” an event aimed at raising awareness about crime and fostering community unity.
“National Night Out’s more of bringing the citizens, bringing the people out of their homes and coming together as a community,” he said.
Additionally, Weiss emphasizes the importance of community engagement, particularly with the younger population. He said that it is important to have officers continue to attend school events, interact with students and serve as positive role models. This is inspired by how his early ride-along with the Meridian Township officer left a lasting impact on him.
“We interact with elementary kids, middle school kids, high school kids,” he said. “They’re the ones that are gonna go to college and graduate. So, quite frankly, those are the ones that we want to become interested in law enforcement.”
Like most police departments in the state, there is a staffing shortage, however, Weiss is hopeful that they will be fully staffed in the next year.
“He does have a lot of connections, so I’m hoping he’ll be able to get us fully staffed with those connections,” said Green, optimistic about the opportunities that the department has under this new leadership.
Collaboration among neighboring police departments is another priority for Weiss. He regularly attends meetings with other Ingham County chiefs and participates in regional police associations for information sharing and mutual support.
“It’s a great collaboration,” Weiss said. “We talk about anything big that’s going in the county, any training, any grants, any procedures, really anything that’s going on.”
Dedication to Excellence
Weiss’s drive and motivation come from his desire to make the Williamston Police Department the best in the state.
“I think that’s what drives all chiefs,” he said. “That they have the drive to always do things better, to always leave them better than what you found them. And sometimes that’s hard because your predecessors may have done a great job but we try and do better.”