In April 2010, the Village of Bensenville’s Police Department with its Crime Prevention Unit developed the first Airport Watch Program in Illinois. The main focus is the Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD). This crime prevention initiative is composed of people who have an interest in various aspects of aviation and who spend time in the vicinity of the O’Hare Airport to observe the various airport operations.
Some members also combine their aviation "spotting" activities with their photography hobby to produce very interesting photos, some of which are found on various internet sites dedicated to aviation topics. The Bensenville’s Airport Watch Program members also assist on occasion at various area events related to aviation in surrounding airports. From time to time, the Watch enjoys familiarization tours of aviation facilities primarily at the O’Hare Airport.
At the same time, Airport Watch volunteers provide the same sort of security as the Neighborhood Watch Program. Members monitor aviation procedures, the condition of the fencing, wildlife activity, parking lots, suspicious behaviors and flying debris (FOD) while they enjoy their favorite pastime.
They are simply an extra pair of eyes and ears outside the perimeter fence. Their task is to "Observe, Record and Report". In 2009, Airport Watch in Ottawa (Canada) logged in over 3800 surveillance hours. In Bensenville these members have ample opportunity to park on the streets of the industrial parks and at the same time spot suspicious activity in these areas. By reporting suspicious activity, the Village of Bensenville is able to take a proactive approach against crime and criminal’s opportunity to commit crime in Bensenville is reduced.
The Bensenville Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit manages the membership along with a board of directors and committee members. Some of the members are law enforcement, military people (active and retired), major airline employees, Fortune 500 employees and managers, and residents of different parts of the state of Illinois. Members get crime alerts and are able to activate as volunteers in case of a major aviation disaster.
The Bensenville’s Airport Watch welcomes like minded aviation enthusiasts to its membership. This member’s only club requires among other things a criminal background check, so it is not open just for anyone. The information is shared with other surrounding municipalities and airport security corporations including Federal interests.
If you are interested in learning more, you can email Officer Joel Vargas at or call 630-350-3455.