Local 700 Media Release on Cook County Jail

A view of the Cook County Jail in Chicago

Local 700 received multiple media inquiries today regarding the Cook County Jail being on lock down. Below is the response issued by President Strzechowski.

The officers at the Cook County Department of Corrections are being blasted for calling into work sick today.

Teamsters Local 700 is proud to represent more than 3,400 hard working correctional officers and investigators at the Cook County Jail. The earned sick time of our members can be used at their discretion as long as it coincides with the rules of their contract. Regardless of how earned sick time is used, we won’t let our members be subjected to the ridicule that the current jail administration puts forth.

Under past administrations, officers would come to work sick regardless of how bad they were feeling because they felt some loyalty toward their department and that administration had their back. They took pride in their job. Currently our officers are being treated worse than the inmates that are locked away for committing horrible crimes.

The current administration staff running the jail has no previous experience in law enforcement but has the authority to make decisions about the well being of our officers. This is evident based on the following working conditions our officers have to endure when they go to work everyday:

  • These officers are working at minimum staffing levels everyday. There are hundreds of officers being assigned to non-security jobs that aren’t essential to the safety of the facility, officers, civilians and the detainees that we are sworn to protect.
  • We have officers that are afraid to report to incidents where detainees are attacking officers and other detainees because the current administration will turn around and discipline or terminate those officers, who not only do the job they were hired to do, but are just trying to defend themselves.
  • There are officers that have been promised safety equipment to better protect themselves, visitors and inmates against violent detainees. While this would provide a safer environment for everyone, we are still waiting on the training that the union has attempted to negotiate for the past several years.
  • When someone who has a mental health issue physically attacks an officer, the administration is more concerned about that state of the detainee’s mind, and not the well being of the officer. Where in America do we care more about the perpetrator than the victim? It shouldn’t matter if the attacker has a mental illness or not; the response and consequence should be the same.
  • We have officers that are being sexually assaulted and physically attacked every day with little or no consequence to the perpetrator, including any criminal or disciplinary charges, and are being told that its part of the job. These officers are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives, and they deserve to have the same rights as everyone else.
  • We understand this is a dangerous job, but officers should not be subjected to having liquid feces and urine thrown in their face or watching detainees pull out their genitals and masturbate toward the female officers. The only consequence of this behavior is a free pizza party for the offenders, given by administration. How does this lack of discipline help the overall safety of the facility, detainees, visitors, but most importantly, the sworn staff at the Department of Corrections?

The overall mindset of the current administration is clear: any officers that defend themselves against a violent detainee are subject to possible wrongful termination or unwarranted discipline. Local 700 will continue to fight these battles on behalf of our members.

So when our officers are sick and are facing this type of atmosphere – they are going to stay home. Can you blame them?

Becky Strzechowski
Teamsters Local 700 President

 

 

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