LOMBARD – It’s common practice for neighboring police departments to help each other out. When Lombard officers are responding to a major emergency, they’ll frequently request assistance from other towns, and, in turn, Lombard officers will help neighboring towns when needed.
On Sunday, members of Lombard Police Department will be keeping the streets safe as usual, but they’ll be joined by officers from five suburban departments. The police aren’t anticipating any big emergencies Sunday morning, rather, their neighbors will be in town helping with the annual Susan G. Komen Lombard Race for the Cure at Yorktown Center.
Since the race began in Lombard four years ago, Lt. Scott Watkins, a 30-year veteran of the Lombard Police Department, has been responsible for coordinating the police efforts and helping Komen representatives plan the event.
“Four years ago, I was tasked with coordinating all of the village efforts with the Komen organization,” he said. “Early on we recognized that there would have to be police protection on the route and I took it upon myself to reach out to our neighboring departments.”
Because of the 5K run and the 1 mile walk, police are needed each year to prevent cars from entering the roads when pedestrians were present. The route leaves Yorktown’s complex and travels along Grace and 22nd streets, Fairfield Avenue and 16th Street.
So that the Komen organization didn’t have to spend some of its fundraising proceeds on hiring off-duty police officers to work at the event, Watkins contacted other police departments for help.
“It’s strict volunteering on their part, “he said. “They’re loaning us one of their guys for a couple hours.”
This year, officers from Villa Park, Oakbrook Terrace, Oak Brook, Addison, Downers Grove and Westmont will be helping at the event, as will volunteers from the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, Lombard’s Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association and Villa Park’s Explorer program.
“There have been times in the past and there will be times in the future when these towns will reach out to us,” Watkins said. “’We’re having an event, can you help us?’ The towns are happy to do it. Some aren’t always able, and we understand.”
To recognize Watkins for his dedication and contribution to the Lombard Komen Race for the Cure event, representatives from the organization will present him with the Komen Promise of One award.
“When the Komen organization called and told me about the award I was surprised and humbled that they thought of me that way,” Watkins said.
He said he was especially surprised at being singled out for the award because so many other people in Lombard also are involved in the Komen race and have been for several years. Keeping with tradition, the village of Lombard has formed a fundraising team this year and representatives from Team Lombard will participate in the walk and run Sunday.
Breast cancer is something that touches almost every person in some way, Watkins said. He lost an aunt and sister-in-law to the disease, and said it’s a cause that most people can rally behind in support.
“It’s something that brings a lot of sadness into people’s lives, but this is an uplifting event,” he said. “So many times, what we do in the police department isn’t a feel good event, but this is.”