Round Lake Park cop says fighting for abuse victims 'is satisfying'
Jason Baldowsky has spent his 22-year policing career investigating physical and sexual abuse cases involving children and adults.
It's a tough job, as sexual abuse cases are among the hardest to prosecute, but getting justice for the victims -- mostly children or adults with development delays -- is what motivates Baldowsky to keep fighting for them.
"When you make the case, when you get the charges on the suspect, that's probably the best feeling ... you brought somebody to justice who victimized an innocent person," said Baldowsky, a detective with the Round Lake Park Police Department.
Baldowsky, 46, of the McHenry area, recently received the Round Lake Area Exchange Club's Above and Beyond Award for advocating for abuse victims.
"I'm humbled and honored, but it was teamwork," he said. "It's nice when we can come together and get justice for our victims. It really is satisfying."
In the last year, Baldowsky has cleared more than a dozen cases involving the physical and sexual abuse of children as an investigator and in a supervisory capacity with the Lake County Major Crime Task Force.
"It takes a special individual to work these cases," Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko said.
Some investigations can take a few hours while others can take weeks before a case is ready for prosecution. Baldowsky's job includes interviewing children who have been taken into protective custody and adult victims of sexual abuse.
"I can never guarantee results, but I can guarantee efforts," he said of how he reassures victims. "It's a difficult task for everybody involved."
One-quarter of girls and 1 in 13 boys nationwide experience sexual abuse before they turn 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Those are only the ones that are reported," Baldowsky said.
He works with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to help victims access needed social services.
"At the end of the day, it's just making a difference for the victims. That's who you fight for," he said. "Even in today's climate, as hostile as it is out there toward police, I can't tell you how many people walk up to me and say, 'thank you for your service.' It's really a surprise. That's a good feeling."