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Former police chief wasn’t fired, East St. Louis mayor says. He ‘effectively retired’

012723_DH_East St. Louis Kendall Perry.jpg
Derik Holtmann
Belleville News-Democrat
Former East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry says he was fired from his job on Jan. 18. In a release from the city, Mayor Robert Eastern said Perry retired.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.

East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III announced in a press release Thursday that the city’s police chief, Kendall Perry, has “officially retired” from police department.

But in an interview with the Belleville News-Democrat on Wednesday, Perry said he had been notified via text message that he had been fired from the job nine days prior.

The release also says that Assistant Police Chief Cantrell Patterson would be promoted to chief of police. Cantrell told the News-Democrat he has not yet been sworn into the job.

The release from Eastern’s office said: “Before Perry’s retirement announcement, he faced a disciplinary hearing to show cause for certain activities under his administration scheduled for January 17. After failing to attend the hearing, Perry effectively retired on January 18, 2023.”

Perry said he had no knowledge of a disciplinary meeting involving him or his job performance.

“I was not made aware of any meeting about disciplinary action,” he said. “I heard later on that day they had a meeting about personnel matters but I never heard that it had anything to do with me.”

Perry said on the day of that meeting, he was “in school” with Northwestern University Center for Public Safety School for Professional study.

“There is no way I would have known (about the meeting),” Perry said. “I heard later that at the personnel meeting they took no action. So, whatever vote they were trying to get to go through didn’t go through.”

Perry said he was notified of his dismissal from a letter that was photographed and texted to him on Jan. 18 by Cantrell. He still has not discussed his firing with Eastern or Interim City Manager Calvin Riley, who Perry said wrote the letter informing him that he’d been fired.

“They told me if I didn’t retire I couldn’t receive my benefits. I still have not received a retirement letter,” Perry said. “They told me to type up a retirement letter to receive my benefits.”

Others in city leadership positions also have been fired since Riley’s hiring as interim city manager on Dec. 13. They include Public Works Director Tim Lockett, Assistant Chief Randadore Fogg and code enforcement officer Harry Hollingsworth.

Riley was appointed to stand in for City Manager Carlos Mayfield, who is on a leave of absence due to an undisclosed illness.

Hollinsgworth reiterated Perry’s claim that the firings were politically motivated.

“(Eastern) found out that I was not for him and he came to me to ask for my support,” Hollingsworth said. “Instead of firing people he should have tried to continue to talk to people to see if he could actually win their support. “... I was doing my job. My boss was pleased with the job I was doing but he fired him too.”

Eastern had previously said he could not comment on personnel issues and that he would not address the personal allegations regarding his campaign. Attempts to reach him regarding Thursday’s release have been unsuccessful.

Riley, when asked in a phone call to confirm the firings, became verbally hostile with a BND reporter and refused to provide the public information. He said, however, that he will speak to a reporter on Friday.

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

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

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