- Aug 18, 2017
When Northbrook Police Chief Charles Wernick began his career as a patrol officer for the city of Evanston 45 years ago, retail theft was the number one crime against businesses. Now he says it’s credit card fraud with additional concerns about identity theft, flash mobs, employee theft and cyber security.
Chief Wernick, who began his service in Northbrook in 2005 and recently announced he plans to retire in November, has seen the tools of the trade improve the ability to fight and deter crime. Instead of police radios, Walkie-Talkies, landlines and typewriters that were used at the start of his career, police are now armed with new digital radio systems that offer better coverage, dash cameras, traffic monitoring radar units, and in-car computer data terminals with Internet access. Dispatchers can track the location of calls and within minutes of a problem or disaster the Department can engage a regional response.
Over the years his efforts have included improving security at Northbrook Court, adding patrols and unmarked cars. During his tenure, he has seen the addition of two major shopping centers — Willow Festival and 770 Northshore on the East side of the Village. While these commercial areas have added minor accidents and shoplifting, no additional officers have been needed.
Perhaps most important of all his accomplishments has been his accessibility and willingness to work with business owners, commissions and Village officials. “I’ve always had a good relationship with the business community,” he states, adding that he always had an “open door policy” for anyone interested in meeting with him about any concerns.
Chief Wernick always provided valuable input to the Village’s Industrial and Commercial Development Commission, (ICDC) according to ICDC Chair Pat Lederer. “Chief Wernick was always accessible, and always willing to meet with us and share his insights to help us make decisions,” he comments. Other business leaders comment that they felt that Chief Wernick was always available and was a valuable advocate on their behalf.
Under Wernick’s leadership, the Police Department has also been an integral part of the Chamber’s Leadership Northbrook program, educating business leaders as well as others in the community, helping to establish good working relationships with business leaders.
During his tenure, Wernick points to officer training as one of the biggest improvements. Chief Wernick has actively contributed to the education and professional development of police officers and taught homicide and death investigation courses over the last 20 years, estimating that he has helped train over 2,000 officers during the course of his career.
In Northbrook, he has enacted policies to help cross train officers so they are educated in all areas and able to provide additional coverage. Through their training on the Major Crime, Burglary and Crash Task forces, the officers are prepared to work together and respond in any situation. “Without question we have some of the sharpest young men and women on our force,” he notes. “Our people are trained and ready to move at a moment’s notice.”
Wernick’s long career has included a variety of responsibilities in selective enforcement (which focuses on major crimes) and investigation. He was an early leader in the North Regional Major Crimes Task Force. Previous to his appointment in Northbrook, he was Chief of Police for the City of Highwood.