CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Chicago’s controversial police shootings have put a spotlight on another aspect of police conduct: whether cops have a responsibility to try and save the lives of the people they have just shot.
Well, in north suburban Zion, there is no debate. Police officers do what it takes to save lives.
Police critics see an awful lot of similarities between the controversial shootings of LaQuan McDonald and Cedrick Chatman. But it's not just the shootings which have many people upset. It's what Chicago police officers did, or rather didn't do, afterwards.
In McDonald’s case, an officer walks up to the body and kicks a knife out of his hand. The Chatman video appears to show an officer handcuffing the victim, then standing on the body. In neither case is there evidence that officers attempted any lifesaving measures.
Compare that with the police shooting of Justus Howell in north suburban Zion last April. A Zion police officer used mouth to mouth resuscitation in an attempt to save the shooting victim.
“If we're there, why wouldn't we render that aid? It's an obligation and we take it seriously,” said Sgt. Tim Bartlett.
Bartlett wasn't the officer who shot Howell, but when he arrived on the scene, he made every effort to save the 17-year-old. Zion's police chief says when someone's been shot, by police or anyone else, his officers are expected to try and save the victim's life.
“It's actually surprising to watch that on any incidents that's captured on video, the officers switch immediately from a life threatening situation to administering first aid to that individual,” said Chief Stephen Dumyahn.
The chief admits there are occasions, especially in Chicago, where the number one priority after a police shooting might be coping with nearby dangers, or pursuing suspects. Every case is different, he said, including the LaQuan Mcdonald shooting.
FOX 32: Do you expect that your officers would have reacted differently in that situation?
“I would obviously not second guess another department. But I can tell you for the Zion Police Department, our officers would have been expected to at least assess. They would check for a pulse. Check for breathing. And if they could administer aid, they would,” Dumyahn said.
Zion police use online training sites like this one to stay on top of the latest life-saving techniques. And all of the officers carry trauma kits.
The basic trauma kits cost about $70 apiece. But some Zion officers believe these kits are so important that they're willing to pay out of their own pockets to get these upgraded versions.
“The way I look at it, at the end of the day, life is life, and all life is valuable. So it doesn't matter, if we can get in quickly and save a life, that's why all of us got into this job,” Bartlett said.
And Zion's chief says that kind of attitude goes a long way toward establishing trust with the community.