East St. Louis Mayor, former PD chief give different versions over ousting

Former Chief Kendall Perry plans to sue city
Published: Jan. 27, 2023 at 10:18 PM CST
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EAST ST. LOUIS, Il. (KMOV) - The East St. Louis mayor and former police chief disagree over the departure of the city’s top cop.

Earlier this week, Mayor Robert Eastern III said former police chief Kendall Perry retired after failing to attend a meeting regarding Perry’s performance as chief on January 17. On Friday, Perry said he missed the meeting because of class, and then was granted leave from his doctor because he was ill.

Eastern III said he and the interim city manager wanted to address concerns with Perry.

Perry told News 4 city officials sent him a termination letter on January 18, but the letter was dated January 17. Perry admitted to retiring on January 18.

“I was forced to put that paperwork in. Because after they sent me a letter, I don’t want to lose my benefits being there 21 years,” Perry said. “So, I would have to put in my retirement to receive my benefits. This is political. This is because of his concerns for losing the mayor race. Of 20 years of my career, I’ve never been insubordinate.”

Perry added that other police staff attended the meeting but they weren’t reprimanded.

“How do you not know about a meeting that your department distributes the message to,” Eastern said. “Went down to the office. Called him several times. Didn’t answer. He didn’t come in to respond to none of the calls by the city manager nor the letter. The lack of follow through effort from the chief of police after giving certain directives. Lack of communication, and not being forthright with the information.”

Mayor Eastern provided documentation showing that former Chief Perry failed to address 36 officer complaints in 2022.

“That’s also absolutely untrue. There’s no 36 officer discipline complaints, because if that’s the case, I can show you more than 36 disciplinary actions that have been taken from my office since I’ve been there,” Perry told News 4.

Perry said he hasn’t heard from the mayor or interim city manager since he left his position. He told News 4 he “absolutely” plans to take legal action against the city. Under former Chief Perry, crime has gone down in the city in recent years.

“Those relationships were established, just not by Chief Perry, but by myself,” Eastern said. “We’re getting the resources in, but we need to make sure that we’re doing--being good stewards as well.”

The East St. Louis Police Department lost union representation last year, the city said it’s working on a new contract with a new union.