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updated: 2/14/2014 10:40 PM

Tadeusz Palka: Candidate Profile

Cook County Sheriff (Democrat)

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  • Tadeusz Palka, running for Cook County Sheriff

    Tadeusz Palka, running for Cook County Sheriff


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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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City: Norridge


Office sought:

Cook County Sheriff

Age: 67

Family: Candidate did not respond.

Occupation: Retired Cook County Sheriff

Education: Law Enforcement Academy

Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.

Elected offices held: N/A

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: NO

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is that?

I have spent 30 years in law enforcement in the Cook County Sheriff's Office, working my way up to supervisory responsibility. I believe that this office can be run more efficiently and improved.

What differentiates you most from your opponents in the race?

I have more law enforcement experience than any other candidate for this office, including hands on experience in various divisions of this office.

What do you think of President Toni Preckwinkle's plan to reduce jail crowding by expanding electronic monitoring, reducing bonds and expediting bond hearings and pretrial proceedings?

I strongly support reducing the jail population/crowding. Recognizing that the vast majority of those housed in the jail (a number which in recent months has again exceeded 10,000) are pretrial detainees, the single most effective way to do so is by shortening the time between arrest and trial. There is simply no justifiable reason for hundreds of detainees to be held for as long as five years between arrest and time of trial. The Sheriff's office and its leadership need to work cooperatively, not confrontationally, with the judiciary in achieving this goal. President Preckwinkle's request to the Illinois Supreme Court for assistance in reducing the backlog of pending cases is both innovative and courageous. I would suggest taking this even a step further and, in conjunction with the Chief Judge, asking the Illinois Supreme Court to temporarily assign a number of additional judges to assist in reducing the backlog. If not enough out-of-county sitting judges are available for such temporary reassignments, I propose that the County consider requesting legislation creating temporary additional judgeships for Cook County for the sole purpose of reducing the backlog of pending criminal cases. As to increasing the use of electronic home monitoring and reducing bonds, I favor these for those charged with non-violent offenses (within the parameters set by statute). As to expediting bond hearings, I do not believe that the time it takes for setting bond is a driving factor as to the overall jail overcrowding problem.

What do you think of Preckwinkle's plan to start housing 17-year-olds charged with felonies at the county's juvenile detention center rather than the adult jail?

The Illinois General Assembly recently passed so-called "Raise the Age" legislation, which amends the Illinois Criminal Code (705 ILCS 405/5-410) to shift 17-year olds charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense from the adult court system to the juvenile court system. [H.B. 2404 (passed 7/8/13); Public Act 98-0061 (effective 1/1/4).] As of January 1, 2014, 17-year olds will now be subject to the juvenile court system. In my view, housing 17-year olds charged with felonies in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center ["JTDC"] has both positive and negative implications. If the goal is to segregate and limit exposure of 17-year olds to older inmates and repeat offenders, then the goal is a positive one. The negative, however, is the potential for mixing 17-year olds, some of whom have been charged with violent felony crimes, which younger juveniles. If this is a goal worth pursuing, then we should consider a separate setting -- not part of the jail and not part of the JTDC -- for 17-year olds (and maybe for 18-year olds as well). This is a question of what setting will best serve young detainees, and our society in general, which is separate and distinct from which court system will adjudicate their cases.

Can this office meet budget goals set forth by the county board president without compromising services? Is so, how? If not, what alternative do you propose?

Yes. Over 1/3 of the County's budget of $3.2 billion is comprised of the Public Safety Fund, and the Sheriff's Office budget approaches a half a billion dollars. This office can be run efficiently and perform all of its mandated functions and responsibilities for that amount. The Sheriff needs to work cooperatively with the President of the Cook County Board and her budgetary staff and with the County Board in setting budget goals that allow the office to fulfill the duties provided for it by law and by judicial decree (particularly, as to the jail). This needs to be an on-going process, not just something that happens at budget time each year.

Finally, is there anything we haven't asked about that you feel we should know?

I believe that we should consider greater online educational opportunities and incentives and privileges to those detainees who take advantage of such opportunities as a means of reducing recidivism and providing an opportunity to better one's life. I also believe that this office is in need of leadership and administrative changes to improve employee morale and performance, and that I, by virtue of my 30 years of service, have the experience and qualifications to do this.