A Chicago police dispatcher has been hailed for his heroic handling of the shooting that left a cop dead and her partner critically wounded — in what he described as “one of the hardest shifts of my entire public safety career.”
Keith Thornton was on duty Saturday night when he got word that Officer Ella French, 29, and her partner had been shot during a traffic stop, CBS Chicago reported.
Dramatic dispatch audio captured Thornton as he jumped into action, sending backup officers in seconds and delivering crucial information to the first responders.
“I got an officer down 10-1, 10-1. Six-three and Bell. Officer down. Officer down. Shots fired at the police. Officer down,” Thornton is heard saying, using police lingo for an emergency backup call.
“Give me some units,” he says before ordering others to “stay off my air.”
He then orders a perimeter and provides detailed descriptions of the suspects.
“Guys, I got my job. Do yours. Take care of my officers out there. Got two ambulances rolling,” Thornton is heard saying. “We got ’em coming baby, we got ’em coming!”
Thornton then rattles off vital first-aid instructions.
“OK, listen to me. Take that damn vest off right now and start compressions. Start breathing whatever we got to do, start it now,” he says. “While you’re driving, the officer in the back with her take her vest off and start compressions now. You’ve got the air.”
The dispatcher also showed his prowess by stopping one of the cops from being taken to a hospital without a trauma center as he directed the vehicles to head to the University of Chicago Hospital and ordered police to block traffic along the evacuation route.
Thornton, who works for Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, reacted to all the praise in a poignant post on Facebook.
“I’m good. I’m well. Don’t worry about a thing. Even though this catastrophe took place under my watch, and as devastating as it was, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else,” the poised pro wrote.
“I’ve been in this field since 2001. I’ve dealt with death, murder, and suicide on a constant basis amongst things that most people would never imagine. Sounds bad to say this, but I’m used to it. & within much of the norm that I’ve taken in over there (sic) years, well — it’s prepared me to know exactly how I must take care of myself,” Thornton continued.
“I do this by doing the things that I do on the regular — travel, ride my Harley, play with my dog, take a car ride, spend quality time with my family and friends while most importantly, remaining ready to get back in the game as the show must go on,” he wrote.
“So, I say this with respect: I had a bad day the other day. We all did. Whether one was on the scene, on the other side of the radio as a dispatcher or citizen just listening, or inside the ER working hard to save our heroes. But with time, it’ll get better so as long as we keep our faith, hope, and love,” Thornton wrote.
“Let’s keep Police Officer Ella French in our prayers and let’s continue to pray for our other true hero who is at the University of Chicago Hospital fighting for his healthy life,” he added.
Thornton also wrote that “our culture has to change. Our society has to change. Our mindsets have to change. We as people must change.”
He said police “are hurting each and everyday because many of them feel unsupported, unloved, and on edge. No one wants to live like this and no one should have to work like this.
“I swear — no matter if you’re Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, LGBQTA+, Straight, Democratic, Republican, independent, Green, Pro Police, or Not For the Police — whatever the hell you are, I love you all and we need to start loving each other,” he wrote.
“There’s a quote that states, ‘We are, because of each other,’” he added.