Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Meghan Vold became the first female sergeant in the 72-year history of the Park Forest Police Department when she was sworn in on April 4 by Village Manager Tom Mick.
Vold will celebrate her 9-year service anniversary with the Department in June. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement from Western Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Public Safety from Calumet College of St. Joseph. Park Forest was her first law enforcement position.
Vold’s interest in police work began at an early age. Growing up near Midway Airport, she remembers being impressed by the Chicago police officers who came to her school. She liked their uniforms – they looked like superheroes – and they were the people you called when you needed help. Her mother says that she wanted to be a police officer ever since birth.
“When I first became a cop, I wanted to shine the light on the uniform in the brightest and best light possible.”
She believes that her promotion is a significant event for the village. When she began her career there were only two female officers on the force. Currently, there are a five with two more slated in start in May. She loves the fact that women are moving into leadership roles and proud that she is among the first.
“Every time I saw a female with sergeant stripes, or a commander or lieutenant, that was my new aspiration and goal. I am so happy to have attained it. I am happy to be an example in this department and surrounding departments of what is possible.”
The path to becoming a sergeant is not easy. Among the required steps is a written exam, an interview with the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, an interview with the Command Staff, and a physical exam. Additional points are awarded for education, years of experience, and military service.
As noted by Mick during the ceremony, Vold is a highly decorated member of the force with thirty Outstanding Service awards, one meritorious award, as well as the Illinois Association of Police Medal of Valor Award. The latter award was received because of Vold’s actions in 2017 when dealing with a woman who was having a mental health crisis in the middle of Sauk Trail and threatening to stab people with a long BBQ fork.
Vold served as a liaison at Rich East High School for five years. She enjoyed bridging the gap with the village youth and building a strong rapport and relationship. She still encounters residents who remember her years at the school and comment on what a positive influence she had in their lives.
As a patrol officer, Vold enjoyed visiting Blackhawk and Talala schools and socializing with the kids, sometimes sitting with them at their lunch tables. She feels that it was important that they saw someone in uniform in a positive rather than a threatening light. After serving the past three years in the Investigations Division, she is anxious to make the rounds again in her new role.
Vold noted that while there are certainly challenges to being a female in law enforcement, there can also be advantages. Women frequently prefer to talk to a female officer, and juveniles sometimes gravitate to the female rather than male officers.
One aspect of the job that Vold especially enjoys are community events where the police can interact with residents. She thinks they bridge the gap between the public and the police and make officers seem more approachable.
The last couple of years have been difficult due to the national discussion on police enforcement as well as the pandemic, but she feels that this adversity has built character. She believes that the Park Forest community knows that their police force operates with high integrity and morals.
Sergeant Vold commits to doing the absolute best in her new position. She wants others to know that they can succeed just as she has.
She says she loves her job and the ability to come to work knowing each day is different and is thankful to help people as part of a great team. Her one regret in her new role is the increased amount of paperwork that goes along with it.