CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Sheriff’s office said it has not revoked a job offer to the wife of indicted Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, but only put the hiring on hold to make sure it’s a safe fit.
Tiffany Van Dyke told the Chicago Tribune she was scheduled to start training for a position as a correctional officer at Cook County Jail on March 20, but she said four days before her start date, the job offer was yanked.
However, Cook County Sheriff’s chief policy officer Cara Smith said that’s not entirely true.
“We are simply conducting a more extensive background check with Mrs. Van Dyke’s application to ensure that she would be safe in a jail environment; which is a very, very complicated and complex environment within the Cook County Jail,” she said.
Smith said Tiffany Van Dyke’s application “is obviously a unique situation,” and said she has been encouraged to take a position that does not involve working inside the jail, given the notoriety of her husband’s case.
“We have to ensure each and every day that we’re doing everything we can to keep people safe, and we’re going to do that here,” she said.
[graphiq id=”d2O79VbmHsh” title=”Shooting of Laquan McDonald” width=”600″ height=”521″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/d2O79VbmHsh” link_text=”Graphiq” ]
Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Last week, a grand jury returned a new indictment in the case, adding 16 counts of aggravated battery – one count for each time McDonald was shot.
Smith said Tiffany Van Dyke working in the jail would be a safety concern because of the notoriety of her husband’s case, but Van Dyke told the Tribune she believes she has what it takes.
Smith said putting Van Dyke’s hiring on hold is motivated only by a desire to make sure she’s safe on the job.
“I don’t think anyone fully understands what the job entails until they’re standing on a tier within the jail. I appreciate her confidence, but these are very difficult jobs,” she said.
Van Dyke also told the Tribune there is at least one other sheriff’s deputy with the same last name, and as long as she didn’t discuss her connection to her husband’s murder case, it wouldn’t be a problem. Smith called that “naïve.”
“The jail environment is very, very unique. There are no secrets. As sort of experts in the jail environment, we are going to do our due diligence here. While I appreciate her confidence, it’s our job to make sure that this is the right fit,” she said.
The sheriff’s office said they hope to resolve the situation in the next few weeks.