Police lieutenant retires after 32-year career with department by Bonnie MacKay One member of the Lombard Police Department is in countdown mode this week as the clock ticks down the end of his 32-year career as a Lombard police officer. Scott Watkins, 59, grew up in Lombard, and said he lived in Lombard pretty much his whole life. He has served on the department the longest of any current police officer. When he was making a career choice more than three decades ago, he had a couple of options in mind and tested to become either a Lombard police officer or firefighter. One thing led to another and as fate would have it, Watkins was hired from the police department’s eligibility list that time around. In fact, when he was hired on March 21, 1983, he said the list was about ready to expire and he thinks he was the only one hired from that list. Although the department was required by law to have an active list, “everything was frozen and they weren’t hiring,” Watkins recalled of his wait time on the police department’s eligibility list. “It was one of those economic times.” As he waited, Watkins said he was going to school and working for the probation department and that helped lead to his interest in police work, along with the fact that he had an uncle and cousin who were Chicago police officers. Looking back on his career, Watkins said many things have changed over his more than three decades on the department, but views technology as the biggest change. “Like a lot of other places in the world, technology has really changed,” he said, adding that he remembers when he joined the department in 1983, there were officers who had been with the department when they turned the light on, on the water tower to notify officers on the street. In his early days on the department, everything was done by hand and officers wrote reports out in longhand or used a manual typewriter. With the advances in technology came computers and cell phones. “I get everything on my phone,” Watkins said. “I didn’t want a phone with e-mail and now I have one.” He said today’s society is one of “instant communications” and when something major happens on the street, shift commanders can send a text to the chief and deputy chiefs to advise them of the incident. “Now people know when something happens and people call to find out what happened,” he said, adding with the advancement in technology the information can be supplied much quicker. Another development in technology is the video camera, and the lieutenant was quick to point out, “There’s video everywhere.” But the video cameras have helped the department identify people when incidents occur. Watkins said a different part of his job has been the terrible tragedies throughout the years. “You do see a lot of bad things, and bad things people do to each other,” Watkins said, but added it was good to be able to help people and help them get through the tragedies. Although Watkins is currently a patrol lieutenant, during the course of his 32-year career, he has served as a patrolman, detective, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant and lieutenant, and an administrative and training lieutenant. “I have had the pleasure to work with him in every capacity,” said Lombard Police Deputy Chief Tom Wirsing, who worked with him in patrol, detectives, detective sergeant and when both were lieutenants. Watkins views the opportunity to attend the FBI Academy as one of the highlights of his career. Other highlights include the launch of the department’s bicycle unit, the start of the Citizens Police Academy, holding a National Night Out event and bringing back the Memorial Day ceremony. When the prior chairperson retired, she suggested to the late Lombard Village President Bill Mueller that Watkins should take it over. “When Bill Mueller asked you to do something, you couldn’t say no,” he quipped, adding that the ceremony is a nice legacy that he thinks will continue. The lieutenant said he has always been a bicyclist and the department’s bike patrol was “a natural fit for me.” “I feel I have a good job and career,” he said, adding that the Village of Lombard has been very good to him and his family. “I’m glad I was able to be of service to my community,” the lieutenant said. “That is a big part of this job and we really shouldn’t forget that.” With retirement just days away, Watkins said he needs to find something to keep him busy, saying that his wife, Sue, “doesn’t want me around helping her.” He said he will be looking for some type of job that’s completely different from police work and close to home. Finding something close to home is important as Watkins said he is used to walking to work every day. He also said he plans to become more involved with activities at his church. “It’s time for me to go,” he said. “The world is changing, police work is changing.” “I will miss the people in the police department and all the village departments,” Watkins said.
Former resident in custody; arrest warrants issued on Lombard charges by Bonnie MacKay A former Lombard resident is in custody in a neighboring county, and Lombard detectives are awaiting his release and will take him into custody on two outstanding warrants. According to Lombard Police Detective Sgt. John Malatia, a recent rash of attempts to cash fraudulent checks on Aug. 10 at a number of Lombard businesses caught officers’ attention. A male subject went into several restaurants, where Malatia said he allegedly would talk to the manager and tell a “sob story” about a family member or girlfriend needing medical attention. He then apparently would reportedly approach another employee, like a bartender, and relate that he knew the manager or was a relative and had permission to cash a check. Police reports show that attempts were made at P.F. Changs, 2361 Fountain Square; Weber Grill, 2331 Fountain Square; Brio Tuscan, 330 Yorktown; and Champps Americana, 2301 Fountain Square. In these cases, the checks were not cashed. However, a fraudulent check was reportedly cashed at Doc Winebar, 326 Yorktown. Detectives were able to develop a suspect from the method used by the male subject and the subject was identified in a photo. After these incidents, Malatia said investigators sent out a critical reach bulletin to area police departments and learned the same thing had happened in a number of other jurisdictions. “Agency, after agency, after agency called here to get information on him,” Malatia said. The subject, John Loresch, 47, was arrested by Wheaton police, where he reportedly had attempted to do the same thing. Loresch allegedly fled, but after a small foot pursuit was taken into custody by Wheaton police. Loresch’s last known address was in Melrose Park. Loresch, who is on parole, was not brought to Lombard as there were a number of agencies that wanted to speak with him. He was taken into custody on another agency’s warrant and is being held in an area county jail. Lombard detectives obtained arrest warrants for Loresch for burglary and theft by deception. Once he has been released, Lombard investigators will pick him up on the outstanding warrants.
Annual Lombard Recycling Extravaganza Sept. 19 The Village of Lombard’s annual Recycling Extravaganza will be held on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will take place at the Lombard Village Hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave., Lombard. The following materials will be accepted for recycling: electronics, car and marine batteries, lumber, vinyl siding, scrap metal (bent hangers, old metal pots, swing sets, lawn furniture, gutters, washers and dryers, stoves, hot water heaters and dishwashers) and books of all types. Several other community organizations will also be collecting items for recycling or reuse at the extravaganza. Goodwill Industries will collect used clothing in any condition; Family Shelter Services is collecting used cell phones and accessories; Lions Club will collect eye glasses, hearing aids and old metal keys; Glenbard East Ecology Club will collect indoor and outdoor flower pots (no plastic, please); Rotary Club will collect bicycles, crutches, non-motorized wheel chairs, canes and gently used shoes (no high heels, please); and VFW members will accept damaged American flags. Again this year, everyone is encouraged to “rescue” books. The following materials will not be accepted: household batteries, household hazardous waste, drywall, plaster, particle board, propane or pressurized tanks, Freon appliances (refrigerators, dehumidifiers), engine parts (or any items with gas or oil) or tires. Individuals and groups wishing to volunteer to work at the extravaganza should complete an online registration at www.villageoflombard.org/ recyclingextravaganza. Visit www.villageoflombard.org or call the Village of Lombard’s Public Works Department at 630-620-5740 for more information.
Breen applauds Rauner veto of wastewater fee increase bill Gov. Bruce Rauner (on Friday) vetoed Senate Bill 1421, which could have resulted in fee increases for drinking water customers in DuPage County to pay for wastewater improvements downstate. The bill would have allowed private utility companies to charge drinking water customers for wastewater improvements, no matter where located and even if the customers receive wastewater services from their local municipalities and not from those private utility companies. The bill easily passed the Illinois Senate on April 23 by a vote of 40-4-2, but Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) led a floor fight against the bill in the House, almost killing it. The bill eventually passed the House 63-50-2 on May 28, receiving just three more than the minimum 60-vote margin needed for passage. Breen then publicly requested that the governor veto the measure. “Folks shouldn’t have to pay for services and improvements that don’t benefit them,” said Breen, whose 48th District includes Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lombard and Lisle, towns with numerous residents served by private utility Illinois American Water. “People don’t have a choice of drinking water and wastewater providers. Because of the monopoly those providers enjoy, the government carefully regulates the types of fees they can charge. This bill would have weakened these careful regulations. Gov. Rauner’s veto is a victory for homeowners across the state.” In his veto message, Gov. Rauner noted that, "Whenever we permit utilities to pass on their costs to consumers, we should ensure that costs are passed to consumers who use and benefit from the particular services to the extent possible. Unfortunately, because not all consumers receive both their water and wastewater services from the same utility, Senate Bill 1421 would permit a public utility to pass on wastewater costs to consumers who do not receive wastewater services. This type of subsidy is not appropriate or necessary." The bill now returns to the Illinois Senate, where it originated. In order to override the veto, 36 votes would be necessary in the Senate and 71 votes in the House. Breen is optimistic that the proponents of the measure will be unable to obtain the additional 8 House votes needed to reach the 71-vote margin needed for override. The sponsors of the bill are Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria) and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria).
Glenbard schools accepted for equal opportunity project All four Glenbard District 87 high schools have been accepted to the national AP/IB Equity and Excellence Project for demonstrating their commitment to ensuring that historically underrepresented students have the opportunity to succeed in challenging high school courses. Nearly 300 schools across the country applied for one of 120 available spots in the project, and, as a selected participant, all four Glenbard high schools will receive match-funded technical assistance from Equal Opportunity Schools—supported by Google Global Impact Awards and researchers at the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University—to help close access and success gaps in Advanced Placement programs by fall 2016. The goals of the AP/IB Equity and Excellence Project align with Glenbard’s strategic priorities by helping more students access the rigorous learning experiences that will prepare them to excel in higher education or the career of their choice. Superintendent David Larson said, “We have doubled the number of students who take AP exams over the last five years, and we are focused on continuing to increase AP enrollment among all of our students. Our partnership with Equal Opportunity Schools is a significant opportunity to reach students who have not enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and show them that they can be successful in these challenging courses.” “The new state law that requires Illinois universities and colleges to provide college credit to high school students who score at least a 3 on an AP exam further emphasizes the importance of all our students taking at least one AP course,” Larson added.
Bill to provide property tax relief for disabled vets becomes law A bill sponsored by state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, to grant vital property tax relief to disabled homeowners and veterans, was signed into law on Sunday, Aug. 16. “Disabled veterans face many hardships that stem from their willingness to sacrifice everything for our country,” Conroy said. “I fought for legislation that reduces the burden of skyrocketing property taxes because disabled veterans fought for all Americans in our time of need.” Under Conroy’s new law, disabled veterans will be able to receive property tax exemptions dependent on the level of their service-connected disability. Senate Bill 107 gives a $2,500 exemption to veterans with a service-connected disability of 30-49 percent; a $5,000 exemption to veterans with a service-connected disability of 50-69 percent; and a full exemption to veterans with a service-connected disability of 70 percent or more. The new law also ensures that accessibility upgrades made to a home to accommodate a disabled person do not increase the assessed value of a home. Accessibility upgrades may include installation of elevators, ramps, chair lifts or wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. “The burdens that disabled veterans face should not be made worse by higher property taxes or costly repairs to make their homes more accessible,” Conroy said. “I will continue to fight for policies that express our appreciation for those who fight for our country.” For more information, contact Conroy’s full-time constituent services office at 630-415-3520 or by e-mail at RepDebConroy@gmail.com.
Lombard police warn residents about IRS and other phone scams by Bonnie MacKay The Lombard Police Department is warning residents about a number of telephone scams involving calls reportedly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and others asking for money for a relative who has been arrested. According to Lombard Police Detective Sgt. John Malatia, the department received calls from hundreds of residents last year who reported these scams. The detective outlined that a person, usually speaking broken English, will call purporting to be from the IRS. The detective said these scam calls usually are coming from overseas. He related that the callers demand payment of back taxes from the resident and may threaten to come to their house to pick up the payment or to send the FBI. “This is definitely a scam,” Malatia said, adding that the IRS does not call people but would send a certified letter. “They don’t threaten you, come to your house or send the FBI to your house,” Malatia said. Recently, a Lombard resident received a phone call saying that her grandson was out of state, was in an accident and needed money as he was in jail. The caller reportedly asked her to send $2,500, which she did. After that, a caller, posing as an attorney, called back and related that she needed to send an additional $2,800 to have the car fixed. Malatia said multiple people have been hit by this “grandparents scam” in the last couple of weeks and warned people not to send money to callers such as this. Last summer, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alerted Illinois residents to the rising phone scam in which callers pose as government officials in an attempt to con people into sending money on unpaid taxes or to collect winnings in a fake sweepstakes. According to an Aug. 28, 2014, press release from Madigan’s office, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had issued a nationwide alert about similar phone scams that “spoofed” caller ID devices into displaying what appear to be legitimate calls from government agencies. By spoofing the caller ID devices, identifiers such as FTC or IRS, or the Washington, D.C. (202) area code are displayed. Madigan’s press release related that the telephone scam artists claim they are representatives of the federal government collecting on a phony debt or unpaid taxes. In some cases, callers instruct the residents to put money on a prepaid debit card and then to give the number to them over the telephone. “Any time you are asked upfront for money in an unsolicited call, that is a universal red flag for a scam. A government office will not seek money or personal information from you over the phone,” Madigan said last year. “If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately.” Madigan suggested recipients of these solicitations should contact the government agency in question to report the call. Illinois residents may also report the scam to Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau at 800-386-5438 or visit her Web site at www.IllinoisAttorneyGeneral.gov.