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Government, Politics & Issues

East St. Louis cops want police chief held accountable for ‘hostile work environment’

East St. Louis police chief Kendall Perry and Assistant Chief Ontourio Eiland shake hands during their swearing-in ceremony in 2019.
Derik Holtmann
/
Belleville News-Democrat
East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry and Assistant Chief Ontourio Eiland shake hands during their swearing-in ceremony in 2019.

EAST ST. LOUIS — Members of East St. Louis Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 126 have voted on a motion of no-confidence in Police Chief Kendall Perry and Assistant Chief Ontourio Eiland.

At a union meeting last week, 13 of the union’s 28 members participated in the vote, eight of which voted in favor of the no-confidence measure.

The members spelled out their specific grievances against the department’s leadership in a letter to city administration and the Police and Fire Board Board of Commissioners. They ask that Perry be held “accountable for his actions, as any police officer would and should be held to the highest standards.”

“Our sole interest is to safeguard this community and the officers that serve it,” the letter states. “Based upon the totality of the circumstances, we tender this letter of no confidence in East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry.”

The complaints outlined in the letter include that Perry and Eiland:

  • Have created a hostile work environment;
  • Continue to violate the FOP contract and the department’s Policy and Procedures manual;
  • Have tampered with the union, which resulted in an Illinois Labor Relations Board complaint against the city;
  • Discriminate against officers;
  • Partake in cronyism and favoritism;
  • Unfairly discipline officers;
  • Cause dissension among officers;
  • Work secondary jobs while East St. Louis’ streets go unpatrolled;
  • Place officers in unsafe vehicles, some with no lights or horns;
  • Eliminated unionized positions in violation of the union contract;
  • Partake in bid rigging;
  • Impede officers from career advancement.

“Nothing from nothing leaves nothing,” said one of the union members, who asked that his name not be published. “And that’s what we have in those two.”

A no-confidence vote has no legal bearing, but is a way to formalize complaints against a government or organization’s leaders.

Perry said he is aware of the officers’ vote, but referred questions to East St. Louis City Manager Carlos Mayfield. Mayfield said the city has no plan to remove Perry or Eiland from their positions.

“City leaders and the City Council are standing in support of the current chief,” Mayfield said. “We are confident we have the right person as chief of police. …

“Every employer has people who aren’t happy with their bosses. The vote does not represent all of their voices. … A small percentage of the membership voted no confidence. We look forward to growing the department.”

Other union members said a majority of the officers do not back Perry.

Among those who did not vote on the measure were officers called away from the meeting on police calls. Others had conflicts on their schedules or feared their vote would trigger retaliation, a union member said. Other members were not aware of the vote since notice of the meeting was not permitted in the city building, they say.

Absentee ballots were not allowed, he said.

The BND obtained a copy of the memberships letter from a member of the union, who asked out of fear of reprisal that he not be identified, other than to clarify that he is not one of the local lodge’s officers. Under Illinois’ sunshine laws, however, the letter is an open record.

The union members voted on the no-confidence measure against the police department’s leadership as they continue to wait on a 2% pay raise that was included in a collective bargaining agreement negotiated in 2019.

The new contract provides for 2% annual raises retroactive to the start of 2016. An arbitrator appointed by the St. Clair County Court ordered in August of 2021 that the city make good on the contract’s terms and Mayfield said in December that the raises would start on Jan. 1.

To date, the raises have not been implemented.

Carolyn P. Smith is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

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