Cook County Sheriff Addresses Controversial Style in New Interview

on May22

22 May 2017 | 12:43 am

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has made waves for the unique way that he handles his job and his stewardship of the Cook County Jail, but on Sunday his conflicts with the correctional officers that work at the jail was discussed on the national stage.

Speaking to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Dart explained his controversial decision in 2016 to release videos that showed officers at the jail beating inmates, and he defended the move by saying that he released the videos in order to help the department to be more transparent.

 “If we aren’t releasing that information, then it furthers the public’s feeling that law enforcement is covering things up and that we are hiding things, and we don’t have anything to hide,” he said. “We have good people here.”

After outcry from correctional officers that Dart had only told one side of the story with the release of the videos, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office released videos of detainees attacking officers, but the release of those videos did little to quell the controversy within the officers’ ranks.

Dennis Andrews, a representative for the correctional officers in the jail, pushed back against Dart, saying that the sheriff isn’t worried about protecting the officers that work there.  

“He doesn’t address the situations of his own staff at the jail who are being attacked daily by detainees,” he said. “He presumes them (inmates) innocent, but he doesn’t presume his staff innocent.”

Dart denied that accusation, saying that he fully supports the correctional officers that work at the jail, and he cited the unique conditions and circumstances under which they work as a reason why they should be supported.

“I become puzzled when they think I’m not on their side,” he said. “It’s the most difficult job. You start with that, and then you’re dealing with mentally ill folks, so they’ve been asked to do all sorts of things that they didn’t sign up for, and I’m outrageously sympathetic to that.” 

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