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Since just 2006, as Cook County Sheriff, Tom Dart has brought an aggressive yet innovative approach to law enforcement. His willingness to take bold steps that yield substantive results have earned the department accolades from organizations and elected officials from across the nation and from the halls of Congress.
 


 

A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
Bold steps led Time magazine to designate Dart as one of the 100 Most Influential People In The World in 2009. The magazine pointed to his impressive stands in the midst of the nationwide foreclosure crisis, as well as his efforts to infiltrate the world of online prostitution and human trafficking.

As sheriff, Dart is responsible for overseeing a police department that patrols and investigates crimes, while also hunting for fugitives, throughout suburban Cook County. He also oversees more than 10,000 inmates and 3,000 correctional officers at the Cook County Jail – the largest single-site jail in the nation. Additionally, Dart’s deputies are responsible for providing judicial safety in hundreds of courtrooms scattered across Cook County, while they are also responsible for serving thousands of court orders every year.

Dart has used his diverse background to bring a unique approach to each of those efforts at the Sheriff’s Department.

A former state prosecutor and state legislator, Dart has long fought for the rights of others and protecting the most vulnerable of our society.

As a Cook County State’s Attorney, Dart helped initiate a massive public corruption investigation in Ford Heights – specifically focusing on its corrupt police department. Residents of the poverty-stricken suburb had been abused by officers, many of whom had developed partnerships with neighborhood drug dealers. Dart’s pursuit of justice led to criminal convictions of numerous officers.

 

In 1991, Dart was appointed to fill a vacant state Senate seat and in 1992, he won a seat in the state House of Representatives, representing a diverse district on the South Side of Chicago. He was one of the only state legislators to work full-time in his position, focusing on his constituents and refusing outside employment.  

In the legislature, he developed a reputation as a persistent lawmaker, sponsoring hundreds of bills, while demanding accountability from state officials and showing a strong willingness to take on state bureaucracy.  Upon taking office, he immediately instituted changes at the Cook County Jail, installing new technologies, including introducing body-scanning machines to prevent contraband from getting inside, while also raising standards for employment. Dart also created a weapons-free committee, focusing on how inmates are creating knives in the jail – an effort that led to a substantial drop in the number of violent incidents there.

Dart was also the first Sheriff in the nation to respond to the mortgage foreclosure crisis when, in October 2008, he announced his deputies would no longer conduct evictions until greater safeguards could be put into place to protect tenants. That stand resulted in new rules that banks must follow before deputies will carry out an eviction order. Those new rules include requirements that banks sign a sworn affidavit affirming all tenants of a home have received proper notification of – and given time to appeal – an eviction.  Dart also committed to assigning a staff attorney to investigate potential cases of mortgage fraud, while also assigning a social worker to begin going out with eviction teams, in hopes of linking those families with social service agencies.
 

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