Wausau police chief battles serious, rare illness - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wausau police chief battles serious, rare illness

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Newsline 9 has learned the Wausau police chief has been out of the office for weeks battling a serious and rare illness.

Chief Jeff Hardel has been on medical leave since mid-October. On Wednesday, he spoke exclusively with Newsline 9 about his recovery.

The Wausau Police Department is missing its leader.

"Jeff is a very motivated guy, he's a great leader," said Director of Human Resources, Michael Loy.

Last month, Chief Hardel became seriously ill. The chief didn't want to go into detail about his conditions. But, in an exclusive phone interview with Newsline 9, he describes his rough road.

"This is a very rare illness that I had," explained Hardel. "But as soon as they were able to diagnose it, I started to recover."

For weeks, Hardel says he's been in the hospital, keeping him out of the office.

"As with any other department, there's always a back up," said Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple.

In his absence Captains Greg Hagenbucher and Ben Bliven have been running the department.

"They gave me the comfort so I could focus on my recovery," said Hardel. "Either Greg or Ben would come every other day or so to fill me in on what's going on, what I should know."

Chief Hardel says he still has a long road ahead, but finally, he says, he's feeling better

"The last two to three days I've made some pretty big gains with my health, getting my strength back," said Hardel.

And there's just one thing he can't wait to do.

"I can't wait to get back to the office," said Hardel.

The chief says he hopes to go into the office for a few hours on Friday and then work half days as he recovers.

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