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Oak Lawn presents honors officer shot while working security

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Oak Lawn officials Tuesday recognized the heroism of a police officer shot at a trucking company in March, but who still managed to subdue the offender, while at the meeting showing a new police recruitment video designed to attract more applicants to a dangerous job.

The Village Board presented police Sgt. Finbarr Haran the Award of Valor for his bravery when a truck driver, Khambrel Lee, came to MN89 Inc., at 10825 Central Ave. in Oak Lawn, March 11, 2024, angry over a pay dispute.

The award is the highest honor the Police Department bestows for outstanding courage or heroism.

Police said Lee, 35, of Lauderhill, Florida, had been driving runs on the East Coast in the days prior to coming to Oak Lawn to confront the company management in person.

“There is no doubt that Lee came to that business to inflict a large number of casualties on the employees he felt wronged him,” police Chief Daniel Vittorio said Tuesday.

Haran was off-duty March 11 and working his first day as a security guard at MN89. When the argument escalated in the parking lot, he and another security guard prepared to intervene.
As Haran was talking to Lee, trying to calm him down, Lee walked to the back of a pickup truck and pulled a .45 caliber handgun from his jacket, police said. Haran was moving toward the rear of the truck, along the driver side, when Lee came around and began shooting at him, hitting him five times, Oak Lawn police said.

When Lee’s gun jammed, he struck the sergeant in the back of the head with the gun, causing more injuries, the prosecutor at Lee’s detention hearing in March said.

One bullet struck the sergeant in the thigh, another grazed his face and other rounds apparently were stopped by his bulletproof Kevlar vest, the prosecutor said.

But Haran was able to wrestle Lee to the ground and subdue him, authorities said.

With the help of the other security guard and bystanders at the business, Haran took Lee into custody. The sergeant then applied a tourniquet to his own bleeding leg before paramedics took him to the hospital, Vittorio said.

Police searched Lee and reported he had two more magazines, each loaded with 13 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

“Sgt. Haran is a hero who saved countless lives that day including his own by moving toward danger, attacking the deadly threat and never giving up,” Vittorio said.

Oak Lawn honored police Sgt. Finbarr Haran Tuesday for his bravery in subduing an armed and angry employee of a trucking company who shot him March 11. (Kimberly Fornek/for Daily Southtown)

Kimberly Fornek/for Daily Southtown

Oak Lawn honored police Sgt. Finbarr Haran Tuesday for his bravery in subduing an armed and angry employee of a trucking company who shot him March 11. (Kimberly Fornek/for Daily Southtown)

Haran, who has been an Oak Lawn police officer for more than 13 years, said his leg has recovered and he is back at work on the police force.

Vittorio said Haran is no longer working as a security guard at the trucking company.

The police chief also stated Lee showed no remorse for the shooting and allegedly said if his gun had not jammed, Haran would have been dead.

Lee was charged with attempted murder and is being held in the Cook County Jail. His next court date is June 5 in Bridgeview.

He bought the gun he used in the shootout legally in Florida, police said. It will be analyzed at the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms for ballistics and to determine if it was used in any other crimes, police said.

Oak Lawn hopes a new police recruitment video will attract more people of Haran’s character to its police force.

A video featuring several members of the Oak Lawn Police Department recommending the village as a place to work has been posted on the village website and theblueline.com, a website listing job openings in law enforcement across the country.

“It has been a struggle in the past year or two, not just (in Oak Lawn) but nationwide, to recruit law enforcement,” Vittorio said. Consequently, “we really put an effort into a recruitment program,” he said.

The village obtained a recruitment and retention grant of almost $80,000 from the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, Vittorio said.

It covered the cost of making a 4-minute video, which shows officers and detectives praising the Oak Lawn department for being “very forward thinking,” offering lots of advancement opportunities and having “huge” support from the community and the Village Board. It includes action shots of officers responding to calls, using a drone, deploying the canine unit and doing firearms training.

The grant also is funding retention bonuses of between $2,000 and $6,000 paid to newly hired officers after they have been with the department from one to three years.

As a detective in the video says, Oak Lawn police officers reach the top salary after three years with the force, instead of seven years, which is the case in many other towns.

Oak Lawn police officers whose primary residence is in the village can also apply for tax credits of up to $8,000.

“We were looking at ways to entice more people to take our test and want to plant their roots here,” Vittorio said.

The salary for new police officers in Oak Lawn is $74,761. The starting salary for officers who transfer from another police department is $92,843. Applications, which will be accepted until June 21, are available at the Municipal Center, at 9446 S. Raymond Ave., or online from the village website, www.oaklawn-il.gov. Information can be found by clicking on “Apply for a Job,” under the heading “I Want to” on the home page.

The department has 107 sworn police officers and wants to fill three or four more positions immediately, Vittorio said.

People with no law enforcement experience, who pass the application process, oral interviews and background check, then have to attend the police academy before starting work.

Kimberly Fornek is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown. Hank Sanders contributed to this article.



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