Stories by Matt Masterson

Man Who Allegedly Used False Identity to Escape Cook County Jail Caught

Jahquez Scott (Cook County Sheriff's Office)

Jahquez Scott, 21, was found in a home on the city’s West Side on Saturday, days after the FBI announced a $2,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

Illinois Sets COVID-19 Testing Milestone with 20K in Single Day

New statewide totals: 73,760 cases, 3,241 deaths

The drive-thru testing facility at 6959 Forest Preserve Drive in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday announced that Illinois is fifth among all 50 states in the total number of tests completed, and also ranks second among the 10 most populous states in the number of tests completed per capita over the past week.

‘We Reached That Limit’: Cook County Sheriff Out of Electronic Monitoring Equipment

(WTTW News)

Sheriff Tom Dart informed Cook County court and elected officials in a letter Thursday that his office has “no additional equipment to assign” after the electronic monitoring program saw a 30% surge in recent months.

FBI: Reward for Information on Detainee Who Escaped Cook County Jail

Jahquez Scott allegedly escaped using another detainee’s identity

(WTTW News)

Jahquez Scott, 21, should be considered “armed and dangerous” after he allegedly used the personal information of another detainee who was set to be released from the jail, according to the FBI.

Summer Months Could Put Added Strain on Conditions in Cook County Jail

(WTTW News)

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says an expected summer spike in the jail’s detainee population could “upend the delicately balanced housing arrangements currently in place.”

Former CPS Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett Moved From Federal Prison

Ex-CEO will serve remainder of sentence in home confinement

Former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett (WTTW News)

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, 70, has been moved from the Federal Prison Camp Alderson in West Virginia where she has been serving her 4.5-year sentence. Her attorney confirmed she will serve the rest of that sentence under home confinement.

CTU Faces Class-Action Suit Over Collection of Union Dues

The Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU Local 73 hold a massive demonstration in the Loop on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 -- day five of the Chicago teachers strike. (WTTW News)

A pair of educators are suing the Chicago Teachers Union and the Board of Education, claiming their First Amendment rights “to stop subsidizing CTU and its speech” have been violated by an “unconstitutional policy” forcing them to pay union dues.

Pritzker Hopes Contact Tracing ‘Army’ Can Help Slow Spread of COVID-19

New statewide totals: 56,055 cases, 2,457 deaths

A smartphone belonging to Drew Grande, 40, of Cranston, R.I., shows notes he made for contact tracing Wednesday, April 15, 2020. (AP Photo / Steven Senne)

The operation will begin with a slow rollout, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that at its peak, there could be about 30 workers per 100,000 Illinois residents – a total of more than 3,800. The governor estimated the cost could reach $80 million.

CPS Updates Grading, Graduation Policies for Remote Learning During COVID-19 Pandemic

(WTTW News)

With remote learning in place through the rest of the school year, the district is telling students they won’t be negatively impacted by “circumstances beyond their control” as in-person instruction has been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chicago Police Opening 2 New Operation Areas to Expand Resources Across City

Police Superintendent David Brown: “Chicagoans deserve policing excellence”

(WTTW News)

The Chicago Police Department says the expansion will help streamline operations and control in order to meet public safety needs and increase collaboration between detectives and patrol officers. 

‘Supply Chain Issues’ Threaten Cook County Sheriff’s Electronic Monitoring Program

(WTTW News)

The number of detainees within the Cook County Jail is reaching historic lows during the COVID-19 pandemic. But as that number drops, the number of those being held on electronic monitoring devices has steadily risen.

COPA Releases Video of Police-Involved Shooting at Grand Red Line Stop

Chicago police officers respond to Ariel Roman, who is seated on the ground moments after he was shot by a different officer inside the Grand Red Line station on Feb. 28, 2020. (Civilian Office of Police Accountability)

Body camera footage and other videos released Tuesday show the moments leading up to and immediately following the nonfatal shooting of Ariel Roman on Feb. 28.

CPS Releases Budgets for New School Year Amid COVID-19 Crisis

(WTTW News)

Though it remains unclear when exactly students will return to their classrooms, the district unveiled its 2020-21 school budgets, which include more than $125 million in additional resources aimed at increasing equity across CPS.

After Months of Turmoil, Lincoln Park High School LSC Selects New Principal

Lincoln Park High School (WTTW News)

Eric Steinmiller, who currently serves as an assistant principal at Roosevelt High School, will take over at LPHS on May 4. He will step in to a school that's been struck by multiple controversies this school year.

Pritzker: Illinois Surpasses Goal of 10,000 Daily COVID-19 Tests

New statewide totals: 39,658 cases, 1,795 deaths

The drive-thru testing facility at 6959 Forest Preserve Drive in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Weeks ago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he wanted to perform 10,000 coronavirus tests a day. On Friday, Pritzker announced Illinois has reached and surpassed that mark.

Federal Judge to Hear Testimony on Use of Social Distancing in Cook County Jail

(WTTW News)

A federal judge will decide whether social distancing and other preventive measures ordered at the Cook County Jail are being properly instituted following calls from criminal justice advocates for additional precautions.

Federal Judge Throws Out Jussie Smollett’s Malicious Prosecution Suit

Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives for an initial court appearance Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year.  (AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast)

A federal judge has dismissed a countersuit filed by former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, who claimed he was maliciously prosecuted for the alleged hoax attack Chicago police say he orchestrated on himself last year.

CPS Seeking More Devices to Bridge Digital Divide During Remote Learning

Chicago Public Schools is planning to hand out more digital devices to students and families who need them as the school district prepares to carry out remote learning plans for the remainder of the academic year.

Cook County Jail Corrections Officer Dies From COVID-19

Sheriff's Office also awaiting autopsy results of second officer who died Sunday

(WTTW News)

Sheila Rivera, 47, had worked with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office since 2012. Rivera and another corrections officer died Sunday. Officials are awaiting autopsy results to see if his death was related to COVID-19.

Pritzker Announces Schools Closed for In-Person Learning for Rest of Academic Year

New statewide totals: 27,575 cases, 1,134 deaths

(WTTW News)

“The science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during his daily press conference Friday.

Charlie Beck Steps Down as David Brown Becomes Chicago’s New Top Cop

Left: Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Charlie Beck speaks with “Chicago Tonight” on April 8, 2020. Right: Dallas Police Chief David Brown briefs the media on June 15, 2015 about a shooting at Dallas Police headquarters in Dallas. (AP Photo / Tony Gutierrez, File)

Twenty weeks after he took over as the Chicago Police Department’s interim superintendent, Charlie Beck officially stepped down from his post Wednesday, handing over a badge to the city’s new top cop David Brown.

Sheriff Tom Dart Pushes Back on Criticism Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: ‘I’m Outraged’

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart speaks with Carol Marin of “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. (WTTW News)

Defending his office’s COVID-19 testing and isolation procedures, the Cook County sheriff said Wednesday he took action to prevent the spread of the virus earlier than any other sheriff in the country.

Cook County Sheriff Says Supply of Masks for Detainees, Staff Could Run Out in a Week

(WTTW News)

Sheriff Tom Dart’s office said it has begun complying with a court order mandating additional protective measures inside the Cook County Jail, but it estimates its supply of surgical masks for detainees and employees will run out in “six to seven more days.”

Pritzker Expanding COVID-19 Testing to Address ‘Huge’ Racial Disparity in Cases, Deaths

New statewide totals: 17,887 cases, 596 deaths

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces the first novel coronavirus death in Illinois on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Black residents in Illinois are five times more likely to die of COVID-19 than their white counterparts, according to state officials, who continue to see a “huge disparity” in the number of both COVID-19 cases and deaths based on race.

Second Cook County Jail Detainee Dies of COVID-19

(WTTW News)

Leslie Pieroni, 51, was pronounced dead Thursday evening at St. Anthony’s Hospital. He had been hospitalized since April 3 after he tested positive for COVID-19.