This paper is written at the request of people interested in my candidacy for Sheriff of Cook County. My name is Brad Sandefur. I am the Libertarian Party candidate for Sheriff of Cook County. This is my first venture running for office. I am not a politician and have little knowledge of the ins and outs of the political world, nor have I much concern about the political world. I am not a politician. I am a law enforcement officer, and that is my perspective and approach to the office of Sheriff of Cook County. This paper may not cover every issue. It will contain an introductory section covering my qualifications, career, and personal life. This paper will discuss the one item on the Libertarian Party platform and where I stand on that issue. The Libertarian Party platform combines conservative and liberal ideas and perspectives. I am an Independent with conservative leanings. Only matters within the purview of the Office of Sheriff of Cook County will be discussed. The sheriff does not legislate. The sheriff enforces or fails to enforce. The Sheriff can discuss issues with legislators to help influence laws in the proper direction but does not and cannot make laws. Political issues that do not generally affect the enforcement of laws within the Sheriff’s authority will not be presented. For example, the Sheriff does not enforce immigration law. Therefore, that topic will not be discussed.
A Discussion of Positions and Perspectives on Issues Surrounding the Cook County Sheriff’s Department
Cook County, Illinois, is the second-most populated county in the United States. Forty percent of all Illinois residents reside in Cook County (Malon, 2022; Geni.com, 2022; MapnAll.com, n.d.). The county has about 135 municipalities. I moved to the Chicago area in 1978. My mother owned a pub on Oak Street, about one-third of a block west of Michigan Ave. The pub closed in approximately 1984.
In 1980, I joined the Marine Corps. After getting out of the Marine Corps, I rooted around a bit, working various jobs. In February of 1990, I joined the Cook County Sheriff’s department, and in September that year, I married my wife, Nancy. In 1993, I earned a position on a specialty unit known as the Special Operations Response Team (S.O.R.T.), commonly referred to as SORT. During my tenure with SORT, I earned my academy instructor certification, taught recruits, veteran deputy sheriffs, and sworn supervisors, and trained with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Secret Service. In 1996, I became an Electronic Monitoring Investigator. I was promoted to sergeant later the same year and, in 2015, was certified as a police officer by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB).
I have worked in most areas of the Department of Corrections, spending 26 years as a supervisor and 17 as a shift commander, and I am currently assigned to a specialty street unit. In 1987, I earned an Associate’s degree in law enforcement from Oakton Community College. In 2015, I received a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Criminal Justice from Roosevelt University. I continued my education, earning a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a Forensic Psychology cognate from Liberty University in 2017. I am currently a Doctoral candidate in Criminal Justice leadership at Liberty University.
I have been married for 32 years. We have four children, one of whom is our adopted, disabled grandson. In addition to him, we have three daughters and two other grandchildren. My wife was born and raised in Chicago around 103rd and Albany and moved to Buffalo Grove when she was thirteen. Nancy works as a teacher’s assistant.
Why Am I Running for Sheriff?
We now turn to why I am running for sheriff and why I should be chosen over the other candidates. Should I win the election, I would be the first Cook County Sheriff who worked for the sheriff’s department from the ground up. Although the incumbent worked for the sheriff’s department, he entered an exempt, high-level position and has never done the ‘grunt work’ or the ‘leather to the pavement’ first line of contact’ deputy sheriffs. His appointment was political. One of my top priorities is to get the politics out of the sheriff’s department. As noted earlier, I am not a politician and am not interested in becoming a politician. I wish to provide fair, equal, non-biased, data-driven law enforcement protection and services to all, along with a few non-data-driven ideas thrown in.
Equity vs. Equality
For too long, the sheriff’s office has put the employees last, recently elevating criminals and alleged criminals above everyone in a misguided, poorly researched idea of achieving ‘social justice’ and returning absentee fathers to minority homes. This belief is based on the modern, twisted interpretation of social justice and the misguided idea of ‘equity,’ or making up for the past by continuing discrimination using a different methodology. The true meaning of social justice is, quite simply, general non-specific equality (Novak, 2009). Novak spoke of the first utopian society that strove for absolute equality and its inherent failures. Novak also pointed out that social justice definitions have somehow added the notion of redistribution as the answer to social equality. He suggested that equality requires proportionality, not absolute social equality, as this is unattainable. In the first claimed utopian society, ranks were defined and identified by clothing color (Shafarevich, 1980). Equality was between those on the same social plane, not among all groups. Two equal entities, or any two entities, that engage in a barter exchange, immediately create an inequality. The only true equity is equal opportunity to succeed or fail.
Releasing known criminals into society to await adjudication is not social justice but unquestionably results in more victimization of the populace. Keeping accused but innocent individuals locked up while awaiting trial may or may not be social justice. However, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is a romantic ideal not yet achieved or implemented by any human society. Following the mantra of ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,’ representative danger to society at large, real or imagined, must take priority over an individual’s freedom when weighed against the potential harm to society if specific individuals are going to be allowed to wander freely until trial. The huge crime increases throughout our nation in communities bent on erasing any form of law enforcement is prima facia evidence of the fallacies of ‘defund the police’ and abolishing prisons in hope of achieving equity, not equality.
Better Idea: Evidence Sharing
A better way to support equitable (not equity) justice is to expand on Brady v. Maryland (1963) and ensure that prosecutors are following the doctrine of Berger v. United States(1935). In Brady v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that prosecutors must reveal exculpatory evidence to the defense. This case has come to be known as the Brady Doctrine or the Brady Rule. However, what qualifies as exculpatory is at the prosecutor's discretion, and this system continues to add to the list of wrongful convictions. Further, prosecutors are rarely disciplined or charged when ignoring Brady doctrine or the tenets of Berger, which state that a prosecutor’s task is to seek justice and truth, not win convictions. Strangely, law enforcement officers face prosecution or discipline under the Brady doctrine significantly more often and inequitably when compared to prosecutors.
I suggest an expansion on the premise of the Brady doctrine by having the legislature pass a law that requires the prosecution and defense to share all evidence before pretrial negotiations and before the beginning of a trial, as doing so would reduce prosecutor control and help even the playing field. There should be a law that makes ‘information dumping’ illegal. Information dumping is a process whereby all required information sharing is done at the last minute, preventing that side from adequately reviewing the evidence before the pretrial negotiation or trial date. Such a law may also reduce the need and costs of appeals, discovery, and possibly even ineffective counsel claims. Requiring all evidence to be shared should also reduce convictions and the number of innocent people accepting plea agreements to avoid jail or prison time while awaiting trial. We need to reinforce the ‘acting under duress’ criminal act exception as doing so may help reinforce and promote not prosecuting those who acted under legal duress as this exception to a criminal act is often ignored to add to a prosecutor’s conviction rate.
Drug Use and Legalization
Legalizing all drugs is also becoming vogue. Legalizing all drug use is a platform issue for the Libertarian Party. The 700% increase in overdoses (Reynolds, 2022; Emanual, 2022; Dowling, 2022) and 120% increase in overdose deaths (Emanuel, 2022; Dowling, 2022) in Oregon, where all drugs have been decriminalized, shows the faulty thinking in such a plan. However, that thought process must be balanced with the reality that we will never win the ‘war on drugs’ in much the same manner we would have never won and did not win the war on alcohol. We agreed to reasonable controls such as age, possession, and consumption limits before a legal intervention is required for alcohol.
The state of Illinois is on a similar path. Illinois went beyond decriminalization and has made possession of marijuana legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes so long as possessed amounts do not exceed 30 grams for Illinois residents and a lesser quantity allowable for nonresidents passing through or visiting the state. However, they have specific rules for the containers that make possession illegal if not met. This law is the first step to more decriminalization or legalization of drugs. We must not forget the lesson taught in Oregon and the destruction of families, friends, coworkers, and society.
There are issues in general for all law enforcement and others specific to the Cook County Sheriff’s department. The legalization or decriminalization of controlled drugs is a general issue, but due to new laws in Illinois, it has become a specific issue for Illinois and Cook County. Legalizing or decriminalizing controlled drugs is an issue for Illinois and Cook County. Illinois’ recent legalization of small amounts of recreational and ‘medical’ marijuana creates specific problems for all Illinois law enforcement agencies, including the Cook County Sheriff’s department. It is further convoluted by sheriff’s department rules that, in contrast to state law, make it a policy violation for any of the department’s sworn personnel to use marijuana, even if prescribed by a doctor. I am undecided on this issue except that I agree that no sworn officer should be under the influence of any mind-altering drug while on duty, prescribed or not. Whether law enforcement officers should be allowed to consume such products when off-duty is a separate issue. Disallowing law enforcement officers to use recreational drugs interferes with their equal rights when recreational use has been made legal.
Public Safety Department
One of my main goals is to decompartmentalize the department and turn to a Public Safety department model. This means that all sworn hires are trained in all aspects of the department’s areas of responsibility. New hires must pass all certification tests to be qualified law enforcement officers, eliminating departmental constraints on what actions some sworn personnel can take. It could also eliminate confusion and questions for courts and other area agencies regarding what powers various deputy sheriffs possess. All deputies would have the same powers.
This allows one to plug staff shortages by sending those assigned to one area to another when that area is overstaffed, increasing coverage without increasing taxes, departmental costs, or budgets. It also allows rotating deputies regularly from the street to the jail to the courts to keep skills for each area sharp. This plan would likely require negotiations with the various unions based on current circumstances. It could create a situation where only one union is necessary for each rank rather than each department section, making union issues and contract negotiations more straightforward. Hopefully, such a change will prove less contentious and costly to taxpayers.
Currently, the sheriff’s department requires only one year of service in a rank before being eligible for promotion. The current administration claimed they asked the union if they wanted to change promotional requirements. The union stated that they did not want the promotional time lines changed. However, such decisions are not up to the union.
These decisions rest with the department and require considering what is best for the department and the public it serves. I feel that, minimally, a sworn individual should have three years of experience at the lower rank before being eligible to test for a higher rank. Minimally, four years of experience should be required before promotion eligibility. Most law enforcement agencies require five years at the lower rank.
Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act
The state of Illinois has been a leader in ignoring federal law and our Constitution. Cook County has followed this lead in many areas. One area that affects the sheriff’s department is Illinois’ ignoring of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act (LEOSA) (2004), at least for sworn deputies not assigned to patrol duties. LEOSA states that it applies to all peace officers, notwithstanding any state or local law to the contrary. Upon taking office, I will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that LEOSA rights are granted to all Cook County sworn personnel that possesses any power of arrest. This adds to the safety of our law-abiding citizens. According to LEOSA, state correctional officers are entitled to this right and are named explicitly as they also have powers of arrest, though their authority is very narrow.
Illinois law also restricts the LEOSA rights to be no greater than those afforded to civilians with concealed carry rights. In other words, they cannot carry in Illinois anywhere that the commonly known ‘no guns allowed’ symbol is displayed. That training should not be disregarded and, as shown by a civilian who recently ignored that sticker in a mall, should not apply to trained, retired law enforcement officers. However, since their training is quite different, I concede this restriction may be a good idea for those who worked only as correctional officers without being fully sworn as peace officers. In Cook County, deputies assigned to corrections are sworn peace officers and receive more training than, for example, state correctional or non-peace officer corrections officers in other counties. The Cook County deputies are expected to take police action in a police situation, including arresting or detaining an individual. Correctional officers, or those assigned to continually work in a correctional officer capacity over a considerable period, also suffer more mental health issues such as PTSD, depression, and suicide and suffer the second-highest morbidity rate of any profession (Picincu, 2019). My sworn personnel's mental health and well-being are an absolute priority.
Mental Health Issues
The Cook County Department of Corrections has become well-known as the largest mental health facility in the state of Illinois. This should not happen. Those with serious mental health issues often cannot control their behaviors or choices. This is often the result of a mental condition known as perseveration. It is a leading cause of cooperation refusal in autistic people, particularly younger sufferers. Cooperation refusal can lead to arrest for obstruction of justice or cause an otherwise calm, cooperative, and generally submissive individual to act out against law enforcement or others physically.
This should not justify arrest and incarceration. We need to take a deeper look at mental health issues such as ‘irresistible urges’ and reexamine the laws and court rulings that do not allow behavioral exemptions for those certified with such a condition. These individuals do not belong in jail or prison. This does not justify or excuse sociopaths or others attempting to use such a legitimate condition to protect themselves from prosecution. However, those with legitimate mental health issues that make it difficult to calm down or cooperate do not belong in incarceration settings.
Such individuals are easy prey for legitimate criminals looking for more victims while incarcerated. These individuals should be in a mental health setting that is not part of a correctional institution. Medication should be made available long-term for those who do not have insurance and cannot afford the medication. I believe that such action would significantly reduce incarceration numbers and have a positive effect on society. The Safe-T Act authorizes more mental health services, but why was this not accomplished years ago? I find it odd that the Illinois legislature passed a bill giving LEOSA rights that should have always been available per federal law. The bill increased mental health services. Yet, this occurred only in a year that the current Cook County Sheriff has become disliked and is finding his position at risk due to his social justice agenda taking priority over the life and safety of Cook County citizens.
Another area where control over safety is being lost is with the Cook County Sheriff’s Electronic Monitoring program, or rather, what had been the sheriff’s department’s Electronic Monitoring program. The courts now control who is placed on electronic monitoring, as the current sheriff’s administration gave up control of who is placed on the program in 2019. The sheriff is charged with carrying out the placement order, which was not the original program design. Originally, sheriff’s deputies vetted electronic monitoring candidates and expressly excluded those charged with violent crimes, with rare exceptions, or having violent histories. The courts have placed several accused murders on electronic monitoring. At least one sheriff’s employee has had their child murdered by an individual placed on the program by the courts. The sheriff’s office must regain control of the Electronic Monitoring program and eliminate violent offender eligibility. Considering that the new law will eliminate cash bail requirements for all offenders, the program should be eliminated as several thousand absconders have not been recovered. Eliminating the program may save county residents over 19 million dollars annually (Staudt, 2021).
Rather than electronic monitoring programs, reducing jail population and criminal behavior can be better achieved and controlled by more preemptive programs. More mental health assistance, counselors, youth activity programs, and an Explorer-type program will help youth better understand what law enforcement officers do and how they are trained. Such a program could be expanded and modified to include adults, especially those that are anti-police and have misconceptions about law enforcement practices. The sheriff’s department already participates in a senior citizen police academy.
Preemptive programs would include increasing programs and law enforcement activity to disrupt or eliminate criminal organizations such as motorcycle gangs, street gangs, and other organized criminal elements. I also advocate for adding more preemptive (pre-arrest record) diversion programs. Similar programs for adults who may be able to be redirected with their behaviors and life goals should also be considered, especially for newly released individuals. Newly released individuals should not be returned to gang-infested or crime-ridden neighborhoods if they can be relocated and still receive family support.
Guns and Gun Control
Legislatures are hard at work attempting to pass gun control laws that will not violate the second amendment or SCOTUS rulings. The issue is that many, if not all, of those laws, merely remove weapons from law-abiding citizens trying to stay safe from criminals. Reducing certain weapons will have little effect on mass shootings as most mass shootings occur with handguns (Crist, 2019; Shapiro, 2021), not the rifles the Illinois legislature and other states are trying to ban. AR-15 rifles make up only about five percent of total guns owned in the United States (Shapiro, 2021).
I am not opposed to universal gun checks, though study after study has shown they would not have prevented the mass shootings that started the gun ban movement. We cannot hold gun manufacturers accountable for the misuse of their products. However, we can hold them responsible if they portray the weapons being used in a manner other than intended or advertise to entice the impressionable young to use the products in an unsafe way. I support requiring that more safety features be put into the buildings that house gun dealerships and that more stringent, vault-type construction rules be required for any new gun store construction or dealer placement.
I support longer wait times to aid in a cooling off, time to think period as a ‘just-in-case’ measure. Mainly, I support being more aggressive against gangs and known criminal elements that traffic in illegally acquired or acquiring weaponry. Many of the usual suggestions, such as training and storage requirements, are already in place in Illinois. None of the laws currently in place will stop criminals from acquiring firearms.
Merit Board and Hiring/Promotions
Like Electronic Monitoring, the Sheriff’s Merit Board needs to be reformed or eliminated. The members, to my understanding, are political appointees who may have been appointed based on who they know, while nonpolitically connected applicants who may have applied were not seriously considered. I have never seen an application process for the positions. The Merit Board ‘certifies’ people for hire but does not hire and holds hearings when the Sheriff or the Sheriff’s designee decides someone should be terminated. They also supervise testing for promotions but do not conduct the testing themselves or promote.
The promotion process needs to be altered. As of now, a sworn employee can be promoted to the next rank after only one year at the lower rank. This has resulted in many promotions of personnel not qualified to assume a leadership role. The incumbent, at one point, claimed that he asked the union if they wanted to change this procedure, and the union at that time said no.
The conduct of internal investigations needs to be altered. It is my experience, and the anecdotal experience of many deputies, that the current system approaches internal investigations from a ‘the accused deputy is guilty, and we must prove it’ perspective. This perspective needs to change to an objective, ‘make no assumptions and follow the evidence’ perspective. We must also eliminate giving high value to hearsay and unverified witness statements. The department must stop sending frivolous disciplinary claims to the Merit Board and Loudermill Hearing Board. The Loudermill Hearing Board must have confidence that they are not required to ‘rubber stamp’ every claim set before them by the department. Additionally, the department must stop making every alleged violation a ‘major cause’ violation to allow time limits to be artificially extended, or disciplinary action to be more severe for less serious accusations.
There are no training standards for recently promoted individuals or individuals transferred from one unit to the next as supervisors. There is a leadership training class for those promoted, but this class is not specific to an assignment; thus, recently promoted individuals report to assignments with authority but no knowledge. There is no supervisory field training personnel. I see this as a problem.
Department policies charge lieutenants with training new sergeants. My experience is that this rarely happens. Often, a non-field training certified sergeant is assigned to train, or more accurately ‘show the ropes’ to the new sergeant, though department policy states that the sergeant’s job is to assist the lieutenant with ensuring that new or recently assigned deputies are trained. There are field training officers for the deputies. There is no one to train the lieutenants except other lieutenants who are also not certified as field training personnel.
Issues for Public Awareness
Promotional lists are kept secret. Most law enforcement agencies openly post promotional lists for employees and the public. The Sheriff’s department shows a promotional candidate only their position on the list and keeps the remainder of the list hidden. I propose that promotional lists be publicly available in two forms: highest to lowest score, and alphabetically and this standard should also apply to hiring lists. The department also has an agreement with unions that it can promote a percentage of candidates out of order. I propose that this can only be done if a particular position requires special knowledge or training not held by higher-ranking candidates. I also support preference points for veterans.
Educating the Public on Allowable Police Procedures
The public must be well-informed on what law enforcement is and is not allowed to do in various situations. Though a hot topic, the best current example is the shooting of unarmed suspects. The public should be educated on when an unarmed suspect can be shot or taken down aggressively. The public’s lack of understanding in this area has resulted in unnecessary and unwarranted civil unrest, false charges of police brutality or excessive force, and false claims of innocent people, inaccurately believed to be exercised mainly against Black Americans, needlessly being shot, or having excessive force used against them. This effort would need to include education on how the human body operates under extreme stress, including; vision, reflexes, motor skills, hand/eye coordination, and the mind change and create perspectives different from those that occur when the body is in normal operating mode, how stress affects reaction time, shooting skills, and other necessary emergency response control of the body and mind of law enforcement officers and perhaps offenders or alleged offenders.
Pensions are an important factor in attracting and retaining sworn and civilian staff. Due to the job rigors of law enforcement, most departments offer pensions after 20-25 years of service. The Sheriff’s department requires 42 years of service from its sworn personnel before retirement eligibility. This is an untenable expectation. The Sheriff does not control pensions.
However, I believe that the Sheriff should take a leading role in helping to change the current pension to something more reasonable and commiserate with the job and the effects the job has on an individual. Corrections personnel deteriorate more quickly than officers working mainly on the street, have the second-highest mortality rate of any job, and have a more dangerous job than street police while handling many of the same crimes and issues as the street police. (Picincu, 2019; Public Affairs, UC Berkeley, 2018). Those findings justify changing to the Public Safety modus in the future, allowing the previously mentioned assignment rotations. This will likely aid in the mental health and wellness of sworn personnel.
The Illinois Safe-T Act
Illinois House Bill 3653, also known and hereafter referred to as the Safe-T Act, is one of the most irresponsible pieces of legislation ever passed. The Safe-T Act was passed partly as one of the ideas for achieving social justice/equity as many incarcerated individuals are minorities. Another inaccurate belief is that incarceration is the reason that many minority homes lack a father in the home. Other equally inaccurate justifications exist for passing this irresponsible, poorly thought-out legislation. The bottom line is that the legislation needs to be repealed or largely amended to the degree that makes repeal the more logical step.
The bill was passed late at night with no time for legislators to peruse the document thoroughly. Democratic leaders worked hard to bully fellow Democrats into voting for the bill (Koolidge, 2022) and law enforcement is overwhelmingly opposed to this faulty legislation (Schimpf, 2021). Low bail/no bail policies have already resulted in victims that might have been spared with more reasonable, broader totality of circumstances considerations when deciding on bail requirements for alleged offenders (Prestigiacomo, A., 2021). Also, considering the facts, not the ‘my truth’ anecdotal stories, may have prevented this tragic legislation.
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