Westchester Police Chief Confronts Crime Perception And Reality

Westchester Police Chief Daniel Babic during a Feb. 7 press conference in Chicago. | Screenshot 

Sunday, October 16, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Residents of Westchester are now getting relatively frequent updates about crimes and other policing matters on the village’s new website, which has prompted alarm among some community members.

“Some people have concerns because they’re not used to getting that information and all of a sudden they see all this activity,” said Westchester Police Chief Daniel Babich said during a village board meeting on Oct. 11.

Westchester has posted a weekly police blotter on its website going back to July 15 and regularly posts status updates on a variety of other matters, such as news about recruits who recently graduated from the Chicago Police Academy.

For instance, the Oct. 15 police blotter shows that two vehicles were stolen in two days in Westchester on Oct. 8 and Oct. 10, respectively — one on the 1600 block of Mannheim Road and another on the 10200 block of Canterbury Street. Both vehicles were recovered by the Chicago Police Department.

There was also an instance of attempted motor vehicle theft on Oct. 10 while a report of theft from a motor vehicle was filed on Oct. 11 and two thefts from motor vehicle reports were filed on Oct. 12.

“Recently, the police was asked to put crime statistics on the village webpage for transparency so there have been questions regarding what we’ve done to resolve some of these crimes in Westchester,” Babich said.

The chief said many other suburbs are experiencing similar property crimes, adding that property crime in Westchester “is down at this time” due to the department prioritizing additional street patrols during times when those types of crime happen the most.

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“A lot of it happens between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.,” Babich said, before noting that the department’s detective division has an 80% success rate when it comes to apprehending offenders and recovering victims’ property.

He said on Oct. 11, Westchester detectives apprehended a person who broke into a home on Martindale Drive. The chief said detectives had been tracking the suspect for over a month. He said the suspect was also allegedly involved in breaking into homes in six other communities.

“Our detectives located the offenders’ home, keeping him under constant surveillance and tracked the offender from crime to crime,” the chief said.

The chief said the department has been making strides in confronting property crimes by purchasing new software that helps them build strong cases against suspects, coordinating with other law enforcement agencies, and beefing up patrols on side streets, among other measures.

In an effort to deter catalytic converter theft, in particular, the village is hosting a Catalytic Converter Marking event at 2315 Enterprise Drive in Westchester on Nov. 12, 9 a.m. to noon. Registration is required, participants must be Westchester residents and vehicles must have a Westchester vehicle sticker. Interested participants can click here for more information.

But the chief said residents also have parts to play in crime prevention. He said homeowners who have installed home surveillance systems “help us tie in these people from the time they first drive by casing the house. They like to drive by a couple of times. Residents’ video footage has helped solve a lot of cases.”

The chief urged residents, especially senior citizens, to be more vigilant about not keeping garage doors open.

“Anybody can walk in there,” he said. “I drove around this weekend and saw a dozen different doors wide open.”

The chief added that he “just want people to know we’re constantly out there,” before noting that “crime goes up and down. What concerns me is we’re possibly going into a recession and that’s usually when crime goes up. That means we’re going to have be more diligent in our patrolling and maybe taper it to strictly patrolling and not as much traffic enforcement. But we’re always going to give not 100% but 1,000%.”

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