IVI-IPO 2010 COOK COUNTY SHERIFF QUESTIONNAIRE – Section 1
DATE___11-22 -2009 PARTY: Democratic_________________________________
NAME: ___Thomas J. Dart__________________________________________________________________________________
VOTING ADDRESS: ____10421 S. Homan, Chicago IL_________________________________________________________
HOME PHONE: ______________________________________ BUSINESS PHONE: ___________________________________
CAMPAIGN ADDRESS: ___47 W. Polk St Suite 235, Chicago IL 60605__________________________________
CAMPAIGN PHONE: _____312-852-5800_______________________ FAX: _________________________________________
CAMPAIGN MANAGER: _____Paula Riggins_________________________________________________________________
NUMBER OF PETITION SIGNATURES FILED: _60,000_NUMBER REQUIRED: ___8,000___
A) Elective or appointive public or party offices previously held including dates.
1991-92: Illinois Senate
1992-2003: Illinois House of Representatives
2003-2006: Chief of Staff, Cook County Sheriff
2006-present: Cook County Sheriff
B) Other elective offices for which you have been a candidate.
C) What is your primary occupation? Cook County Sheriff
D) Briefly list your civic activities of the past ten years.
Little Fishes and Loaves Mentoring Program, St. Margaret of Scotland Church; St. Michael’s House board;
Illinois State Crime Commission board; Misercordia Heart of Mercy; Roseland Community Hospital; Fight Crime:
Invest In Kids
E) What subjects have you studied and what experience have you had which will be most helpful to you in the office you seek?
Sheriff since 2006, Chief of Staff to Sheriff for two years, chairman House Judiciary Committee, sponsored
Mayor Daley’s Safe Neighborhoods Act, authored several state laws cracking down on sex offenders, wrote the
Sexually Violent Predators Commitment Act. Co-chairman of the House Prison Oversight Committee
F) What candidates have you supported in past elections? Please be specific in describing your role in each campaign.
I have volunteered my time to several candidates, including serving as deputy campaign manager for Barack
Obama's congressional race, an Illinois director for the Kerry for President campaign, and many others.
G) Please list all endorsements you have received so far.
Cook County Democratic Party, Chicago Federation of Labor.
H) As concisely as possible, please state why you feel you should be endorsed over the other candidate(s). What goals for the office
you seek are most important to you personally?
In just three years as sheriff, I have tried to bring a different approach to the sheriff’s office and use the office’s
powers in innovative ways. I moved the sheriff’s office to the jail, stopped foreclosure evictions when I saw
inadequacies, filed suit against Craigslist when I saw the perpetration of crime and went beyond the basic law
enforcement responsibilities when faced with the tragedies at Burr Oak Cemetery. I believe I have taken the
necessary steps to earn your endorsement. If elected, it is my goal to move the department out from under the
costly Duran Consent Decree, while also expanding video technologies at the jail.
I) What is your campaign budget? How much have you raised to date? Budget is to be determined, amount raised so far is
J) How many people are on your campaign staff? How many volunteers are on your list? I have one paid consultant for the
campaign and a handful of volunteers.
IVI-IPO 2010 COOK COUNTY SHERIFF QUESTIONNAIRE – SECTION 2
1. 1. Will you accept or have you accepted campaign donations from current or potential suppliers,
employees or outside contractors? I have made it a point not to solicit or pressure – not even subtly –
employees for campaign contributions. No fundraiser tickets are distributed to employees and I have
hired a private fundraiser whose job, among other things, is to ensure donations are not solicited from
employees. I have accepted campaign donations from suppliers and/or outside contractors, but as
sheriff, I am not involved in the award process for contracts.
2. Will you employ or have you employed staff in your office who hold other public sector jobs concurrently?
I am not aware of sheriff’s staff who hold other public sector, non-elected jobs outside of the
department. We do have numerous officers who work second jobs, but all are required to file a notice of
secondary employment form with our office and it must be approved by a supervisor before that job can begin.
3. Will you employ or have you employed staff in your office who have either outside employment or contracts
with entities which do business with the County? I am not aware of any sheriff’s staff who are employed in any
way with any company that does business with the sheriff’s department.
4. In what circumstances should the Sheriff's office contract for outside professional services and what criteria
would you implement for letting contracts? Please comment on any existing abuses and how you would correct
them. The sheriff’s department is not involved in the solicitation or awarding of contracts. All county contracts
go through the county board president’s office and are approved by the county board. Each contract goes
through a strict procurement process before being awarded.
5. Do you support a ban on hiring, firing and promotion based on political considerations for non policy making
positions? Since taking office in 2006, I have taken a proactive stand on prohibiting hiring, firing or promotions
based on political considerations for non-policy making positions. I encouraged the appointment of a federal
hiring monitor, who I welcomed to conduct interviews with employees, analyze all hirings, firings and
promotions and to solicit complaints from former or current employees about improper practices. To date, every
report filed by that federal monitor has indicated a strong willingness of my office to participate in this process
and a welcoming atmosphere for that monitor’s staff. Ultimately, I look forward to working with the monitor to
implement suggested changes as a result of these interviews and processes.
6. Do you support Affirmative Action? Every official is required to support affirmative action. But I have made
every effort to ensure a diverse workplace exists at every level of the sheriff’s department. My undersheriff and
police chief are African-American, my jail director is Latino and my spokesman is Native American. In addition,
60 percent of my workforce are minorities, while 30 percent are female. Among the high-ranking women I have
appointed to their positions are my undersheriff, chief of evictions, chief of court services and human resources
director. Additionally, three of my jail superintendents and the head of my training division are women, all
minorities, as well.
7. What policies and plans do you have for cooperation with the State Police, State's Attorney and the local
police? The Cook County Sheriff’s Department regularly works with both the Illinois State Police, Cook County
State’s Attorney, Chicago Police Department and dozens of suburban police departments on several fronts,
including on multi-jurisdictional task forces and investigations
8. What areas of independence of action should be reserved for this local office? I don’t understand this
9. What is your opinion of the efficiency of the present bailiff force in the County Courts? The Cook County
Sheriff’s Department has no “bailiffs” – everyone who is responsible for courtroom security is known as a
deputy. But the question about efficiencies is appropriate. Since 1996, 40 new courtrooms have been added to
the court system, yet there has not been a new class of deputies sworn in since 2003 and I have lost 230 deputy
and court staff positions since 2004. This massive shortage has meant that some courthouse floors have only
one deputy to secure all the courtrooms on it. I have joined with the Chicago Bar Association and several other
legal organizations in pleading with the Cook County Board to address this shortage, to no avail. As such, I
have posed several solutions that would help adjust staffing hours and free up deputies to fill empty
courtrooms. I have asked the county board to approve my proposal to close suburban bond courts on the
weekends – a time when there are often more court staff than defendants. In addition, I have asked the board to
support my measure to close suburban courthouses at 6 p.m., due to the massive downturn in court activity
as the day goes on. Simply making these two moves would free up the equivalent of 50 courtroom deputies –
deputies I can then move to other areas. Still, even this move is only a bandage solution and will not adequately
address the long-term emergency situation in our courts
10. What changes, if any, would you make in force deployment to address the shortage of prison guards and the
reduced policing requirements of the shrinking unincorporated areas of the county? The Cook County Sheriff’s
Department has no “prison guards” but does employ more than 3,000 correctional officers at the nation’s
single largest jail. The staffing shortages there are startling. By way of example, while Riker’s Island in New
York has roughly the same number of detainees as Cook County – 10,000 – their jail has about 9,000
correctional officers, compared to our approximately 3,800. This shortage is so startling that a federal judge
has ordered the county board to give my office hundreds more officers this year alone. Even with those
hundreds of new officers, however, the jail will remain woefully understaffed.
The separately run sheriff’s police department has also seen a reduction in officer positions, due to
positions not being immediately filled when they open. Your question of “reduced policing
requirements” isn’t backed by stats, however. Last year, our department spent 8,250 hours assisting
suburban agencies – an all-time record. Additionally, our police department’s Hostage, Barricade and
Terrorism Unit was called out to assist suburban agencies more than 500 times last year, as it is the only
team of its kind in suburban Cook County. Our patrol officers wrote 78,000 citations and made 244 DUI
arrests last year. Additionally, those officers are now the only police force in Ford Heights – a violent
village where the police simply stopped showing up to work two years ago, adding more responsibilities
for our department. Finally, our newly created Animal Crimes Unit rescued 241 dogs last year and made
26 felony arrests for dog fighting and other animal cruelty charges, not to mention busting a dog
fighting ring operating out of a suburban daycare home.
Earlier this year, I re-structured our police gang unit, dividing them into geographic teams, so that they
are re-deployed to hot spots across the county as warranted. And while the areas of unincorporated
Cook County have shrunk, our responsibilities have not shrunk. Suburban villages have been willing to
annex some parts of unincorporated areas, but not all. This leaves my department with the responsibility
of policing a trailer park here and a strip of motels a few miles away – with the nearby town annexing the
land in between. This has made patrol a challenge, to say the least, particularly since these areas are
spread out throughout the county.
11. What qualifications and training should be required of deputy sheriffs? The Cook County Sheriff’s
Department has three distinct units: courtroom deputies, jail correctional officers and sheriff’s police
officers. While your question simply asks about requirements for deputies, I would like to address the new
requirements we have introduced since I took office in 2006. I now require all new officers to undergo a
series of tests before being considered for a position. They must pass a strenuous physical examination, a
psychological test, polygraph examination and thorough background check. This has slowed our hiring to
levels that have concerned some observers. But given the history of the lawsuits filed against this
department because of the behavior of some employees, I believe a more stringent hiring process is
necessary to ensure only the very best candidates are considered for positions when they open in our
12. What will you do to eliminate political favoritism as a factor in awarding deputy sheriff badges? The
system of awarding of Cook County Sheriff’s badges based on political favoritism hasn’t existed in 20 years.
13 Is racial profiling a legitimate tool in law enforcement? Why or why not? I am unaware that racial
profiling is a legitimate law enforcement tool in any jurisdiction.
14. What steps will you take to document, reduce and prevent brutality by law enforcement and correctional
Since taking office in 2006, I have taken numerous steps to document, reduce and prevent incidents or reports
of brutality by Cook County Sheriff’s officers. As mentioned in #11, I have increased the hiring standards for our
department in hopes of curtailing the hiring of these types of officers. Additionally, I have implemented an
“early warning system” to track complaints made against officers. A high number of complaints against any one
officer are flagged and immediately addressed and investigated by our Office of Professional Review – an office
I created upon taking office. That office is headed by the former #2 official with the Chicago FBI, Joseph Ways,
and Terry Hake, the former undercover FBI investigator responsible for the legendary Operation Greylord
investigation, among other top-tier investigators and attorneys.
15. What plans do you have to improve county correctional facilities and their administration?
Unfortunately, the responsibility for improving county correctional facilities does not lie with the sheriff. In a
strange set-up, the sheriff has no responsibility for maintenance, repairs or facility improvements at the jail.
That duty falls to the board president’s department of facilities management. My staff can not fix a door lock,
change a light bulb or clean graffiti off a wall inside the jail. This is a system that needs a more careful
analysis for change.
16. Do you support home monitoring or other alternatives to incarceration for pre-trial detainees? A viable
electronic monitoring program is critical to the success of the sheriff’s department and to permanently
reducing the population at the jail. When I took office, the sheriff had sole responsibility for the county’s EM
program. This meant that an officer in the basement of the jail, with no legal background, no access to a
person’s criminal history or a detail of the charges against him, would decide whether a person was a good
candidate for EM. This was a horribly irresponsible scenario, but one the sheriff was stuck with. Rather than
continue that dangerous scenario, I completely stopped putting people on EM. I reasoned that it is up to the
judiciary – with their legal experience, access to criminal case files and history and the opportunity to argue
EM eligibility with a prosecutor and defense attorney - to properly select candidates for the program. Judges
are in the best – and really only - position to make that decision. Since pressuring the judiciary to accept
this challenge, we have seen EM numbers increase from none to roughly 300 in the last few weeks. Still, I
have 1,500 EM bracelets available to use and this program could be greatly expanded if more judges
accepted that responsibility. In fact, if we could reduce the jail population by 1,500 on a consistent basis, we
could easily close an entire division at the jail, dramatically reducing our budget.
17. Do you support separating violent from non-violent offenders? The Cook County Jail presently
separates violent from non-violent detainees during the initial screening process. We have a classification
system of minimum, medium and maximum security and have multiple buildings for each classification. All
detainees are sorted, based on the charge against them and their criminal history, in the holding area of the
jail and are separated at processing. Additionally, last year, I expanded the use of a gang-free tier at the jail,
an area for those who declare no gang affiliation upon intake. This area is known for its lack of violence.
18. What proposals do you support to reduce overcrowding at Cook County Jail? Thankfully, the issue of
overcrowding at the jail is one we have not had to address in more than a year. Thanks to various alternative
sentencing programs and an emphasis on increasing electronic monitoring opportunities, we have been
able to keep the population around 9,200 for the last year. We have not had anyone sleeping on the floor in
more than a year, nor have we had to release anyone on an emergency EM basis. By continuing to focus on
EM opportunities, this will become even less of an issue going forward. The goal is to ultimately free the
department from the costly and decades-old Duran Consent Decree, implemented because of the
overcrowding situation that existed for decades.
19. Do you support expansion of the County Boot Camp program? The Cook County Sheriff’s Boot Camp
has been a dramatic success. Recidivism rates are less than half of what they are at the jail and most
detainees, when posed with the choice of either 3-5 years in prison or eight months at the boot camp,
followed by even more time with house arrest and drug and alcohol counseling, choose the boot camp. Yet
this is entirely a state-funded program and it is up to the state whether it continues or expands. Our boot
camp directly reduces the Illinois Department of Corrections’ population of inmates in prison, therefore it is
in IDOC’s best interests to continue or even expand that funding.
20. Do you support the shackling of detained and incarcerated pregnant women in pre- and post-childbirth transport
to and from detention or correctional facilities and during childbirth? The Cook County Sheriff’s Department has
a policy against the shackling of pregnant women who are in labor. This policy will continue under my
watch. But the shackling of women who are simply pregnant is a necessary part of incarceration during
transport to medical appointments. Since I took office, we have had pregnant detainees attempt to escape –
including one who jumped out a hospital window – while being transported to a doctor’s appointment.