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Oak Lawn presents an honors officer who was shot while working security

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

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

The award is the highest award given by the police for extraordinary courage or heroism.

Police said Lee, 35, of Lauderhill, Florida, had driven to Oak Lawn on the East Coast to personally confront company management in the days leading up to his arrival.

“There is no doubt that Lee came to that company to inflict a large number of victims among the employees he believed were being wronged,” Police Chief Daniel Vittorio said Tuesday.

Haran was off duty on March 11 and was working his first day as a security guard at MN89. When the argument in the parking lot escalated, he and another security guard prepared to intervene.
While Haran was talking to Lee in an attempt 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 drove to the back of the truck, along the driver’s side, when Lee passed by 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 further injuries, the prosecutor said during Lee’s detention hearing in March.

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

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

With the help of the company’s other security guard and bystanders, 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 facing the danger, attacking the deadly threat and never giving up,” said Vittorio.

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

Kimberly Fornek/for Daily Southtown

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

Haran, who has been with the Oak Lawn Police Department for more than 13 years, says his leg has recovered and he is back on the force.

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

The police chief also stated that Lee showed no remorse for the shooting and reportedly said that 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 shooting legally in Florida, police said. It will be analyzed by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms for ballistics and to determine if it was used in other crimes, police said.

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

A video of several members of the Oak Lawn Police Department recommending the village as a place to work was posted on the village website and on theblueline.com, a website that lists law enforcement job openings across the country.

“It’s been a struggle over the last two years, not just (in Oak Lawn) but nationwide, to recruit law enforcement officers,” Vittorio said. That’s why “we’ve really put effort into a recruitment program,” he said.

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

It covered the costs of creating a four-minute video in which officers and detectives praise the Oak Lawn department for having “very progressive thinking,” offering many opportunities for advancement and receiving “tremendous” support from the community and village government. It includes action shots of officers responding to calls, using a drone, deploying the canine unit and conducting firearms training.

The grant also funds retention bonuses of between $2,000 and $6,000, which are paid to newly hired officers after they have worked with the department for one to three years.

As one detective says in the video, Oak Lawn police officers reach their highest salaries after three years on the force, rather than seven years, which is the case in many other cities.

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

“We were looking for ways to entice more people to take our test and settle here,” Vittorio said.

The salary for new police officers in Oak Lawn is $74,761. The starting salary for officers transferring from another police department is $92,843. Applications, which will be accepted through June 21, are available at the community center, located at 9446 S. Raymond Ave., or online through the village website, www.oaklawn-il.gov. Information can be found by clicking on ‘Apply’ on the home page under the heading ‘I want’.

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

Those without law enforcement experience, who have passed the application process, oral interviews and background checks, must then 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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