Tom Dart facing opposition from own party

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is facing more opposition than ever before in his quest for re-election and it's coming from his own party.
March 10, 2014 5:56:51 AM PDT
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is facing more opposition than ever before in his quest for re-election, and it's coming from his own party.

The politician turned law-enforcer is faced with a Democratic primary he has to get through a week Tuesday that's full of law enforcement professionals, the key experience they say the incumbent lacks.

Bill Evans admits glad-handing and selling oneself to a skeptical public is not his thing, but 23-year correctional officer walks the South Side looking for votes and thinks a re-organization of the sheriff's department is what's needed.

"I think our organization is top heavy," Evans said. "Right now I think we have more chiefs than we do Indians and I think right now we can show a dire need for Indians and less chiefs."

Despite the questionable imagery, the veteran of gang, vice and SWAT teams says longstanding issues of overcrowding and mistreatment of inmates in the Cook County Jail must be addressed immediately.

"It is something that if we don't pay attention to right now immediately and take care of the situations that need to be taken care of," said Evans. "We could find ourselves in dire straits with that facility."

For Sylvester Baker, a 22-year Cook County Sargent, who is steps away from completing his Ph.D. in psychology, Dart's policing choices, such as raids on Englewood dog-fighting rings, but little effort to infiltrate gangs that work in the city as well as the suburbs, illustrate a lack of knowledge about what needs to be done.

"County-wide patrol, which is number one county-wide, gang task forces county-wide, 800 hotline number so we have to go to a county-wide policing strategy we are long overdue," Baker said.

Dart says he's his own worst critic and agrees he has not fixed the county jail, which he says has become a dumping ground for the mentally ill. But correcting the corrections system he says is project more people need to think about

"When you are talking about overcrowding and all the expenses that come from it, the lawsuits that derive from it, if you can reduce the population by having the appropriate people in there for starters, so much more is going to flow from there appropriately," Dart said.

Tadeusz "Ted" Palka, a former deputy sheriff, is the fourth candidate in the democratic primary. His campaign declined an interview request.

The winner of the primary at this point does not have a Republican opponent, though the GOP can nominate someone after the primary which is Tuesday March 18.


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