Published on September 01, 2021
This month’s message is going to be a solemn one that deals with the topic of death.
As a country, we were faced with the death of 13 American soldiers who were killed by a terrorist bomb as they were evacuating Americans and our Afghani partners from the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. These deaths remind us of the horrors of war, and the heroism and bravery of our American soldiers. The commitment of the volunteer soldiers that make up our armed forces is unwavering.
One week prior to the blast that killed these soldiers, Marine Sergeant Nicole Gee posted a picture of herself holding an Afghani baby. The caption simply stated, “I love my job.” I am saddened by the loss of these brave men and women. My heart goes out to their families, mourning this great loss to them and our country.
Our Department was hit by the painful sting of death when we lost one of our own. On August 20, 2021, we lost Sgt. Pat Madison, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19. Pat was a decorated, 15-year veteran of our Department. He was the sergeant in charge of the General Investigations Unit when he passed. Pat is survived by his son, his fiancé, mother, brother, sister, and his extended family. Pat was loved by all. Our Department is heartbroken by the loss of this great man. Pat was a tremendous leader whose passion for the job was only surpassed by his commitment to our community. Pat was a good friend, an excellent officer, and a dedicated community servant. Although we are all sad that Pat is gone, I am so grateful that he graced us with his smile, humor, wit, wisdom, and dedicated service. He will be missed dearly.
On August 7th, two Chicago Police Officers were shot after they conducted a traffic stop. One of the officers, 29-year-old Ella French, died on her way to the hospital. The other Officer, Carlos Yanez Jr., is paralyzed and lost an eye. Officer Yanez is currently in a rehab hospital as he recovers.
These senseless acts of violence against police are difficult to take. They highlight the evil in the world and the brave men and women who go to work every day ready to sacrifice their lives to keep the evildoers at bay.
This shooting received a lot of attention on social media and some media outlets. Not because a police officer was killed and another is paralyzed. Sadly, that is all too common these days. It received media attention because of the actions of Keith Thornton Jr., the 911 dispatcher who was working the radio the night of the horrific incident. Although I wish we were more outraged when a police officer is shot and killed in the line of duty, I am happy that Mr. Thornton received the amount of publicity he received.
Mr. Thornton did an excellent job with one of the most difficult calls he will ever work. He remained calm and directed officers to the nearest trauma hospital, instructing other officers to block traffic so that the wounded officers could get to the hospital as fast as possible. Mr. Thornton was heard saying, “That’s the unconscious officer, correct? Is someone in the back with her? Is someone in the back seat with her? Ok, listen to me, take that damn vest off right now and start compressions, start breathing, whatever you got to do, start it now, while you’re driving, the officer in the back with her, take the vest off and start compressions now. Keep it rolling baby … they know you’re coming in.” Later in the call, you hear Mr. Thornton say, “And the other female officer, please get her in there, guys. Make it quick, be safe getting there but make it quick.”
You can hear the heartbreak in Mr. Thornton’s voice when he learns that Officer French was shot in the head.
Listening to this call gives me chills. If you haven’t heard it, and wish to, here is the link.
Mr. Thornton’s actions are deserving of recognition. This call illustrates how emotionally draining calls like these can be for everybody including our dispatchers. Many of our dispatchers were on the other end of the phone with a terrified student, teacher, or parent during the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Calls like these can be traumatizing and show why our 911 dispatchers should be reclassified as first responders.I am tremendously grateful for all of the 911 operators who work a radio. They have a difficult job and are often underappreciated. Dispatching is a noble profession where quality telecommunicators can make a difference in their community. We are blessed to have our own dispatch center filled with professionals who really care. If you feel you have what it takes to be a professional dispatcher, we are hiring.
I am sad that the Chicago incident ended with the death of one officer and life-altering injuries to another, but I am happy that it shed light on how important dispatchers are to our community. They are truly heroes on the other end of the radio.
In closing, I am asking you all to remember the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the terrorist attack on our Country carried out by Al-Qaeda on 9/11/2001. This attack on our Country was a day of unprecedented suffering on the American people.
On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I will remember the 2,562 civilians who perished in that attack and the 415 first responders who died running into danger, trying to save lives.
I pray for their families and all the families who are still dealing with the pain, suffering, and sicknesses caused by the attack on our Country that horrible day.
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