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Sneed exclusive: Sheriff releasing videos of excessive force

Friday, April 15, 2016
Chicago Sun-Times
by Michael Sneed

Sneed has learned Cook County SheriffTom Dartplans to publicly release six videos showing excessive force against Cook County Jail inmates.

“The videos, which visually document violence by jail officers against inmates where we sought termination, are being released Friday morning,” a Cook County sheriff source said.

“No prison has ever done this before and it’s being done in the interest of transparency by Sheriff Dart,” he said.

“All other videos of violence in jails and prisons throughout the country have been forcibly released,” he added.

Sneed is told the six videos involve 14 officers, five of whom were fired, one resigned and eight received suspensions without pay ranging from 45 to 180 days.

“Some of the officers were on the scene but not responsible for the actual violence against inmates,” he said.

“Sheriff Dart decided to release the videos because the public has a right to transparency within the jail, which houses over 8,000 inmates and employs 3,500 correctional deputies.”

Since taking office, Dart has invested millions of dollars to blanket the jail with fixed cameras, which also permits his office to identify inmates attacking officers.

“Literally every hallway and every tier is blanketed with 2,400 cameras, which does not include hand-held and body cameras spread throughout the compound,” the source said.

Several months ago, Dart proactively began posting 2015 Cook County Sheriff’s Merit Board decisions regarding discipline for sheriff’s officers on his website, so that the public could see and analyze what happens in the jail.

The videos will now accompanythe cases on the website.

“The officers union is already threatening litigation due to our decision to release the videos, which the sheriff has been thinking about for a long time.

“This is something that has never been done, to our knowledge, in American history,” the source added.

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