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East St. Louis gets a new police chief after Mayor Charles Powell III takes office

East St. Louis police officers respond to a scene where law enforcement reports a man was shot to death on Monday, March 6, 2023, near Exchange Avenue and 9th Streets in East St. Louis.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
East St. Louis police officers respond to a scene where a man was shot to death on March 6 near Exchange Avenue and 9th Street.

Kendall Perry is back as the police chief in East St. Louis after leaving the jobearlier this year during the administration of former Mayor Robert Eastern III.

Perry was rehired as chief after the new mayor, Charles Powell III, took office. Powell, a city councilman at the time, defeated Eastern in the April election.

“I’m back,” Perry said. “I am grateful and thankful for the overwhelming support from the community, citizens and family.

“I am glad to be back. I have a lot of work ahead of me. I have lots to accomplish this year.”

Perry replaced Cantrell Patterson, who was appointed interim chief earlier this year by Eastern. Patterson retired after he was informed that the old chief was returning to the job.

Perry said he left his job under the Eastern administration because of politics.

 Kendall Perry was fired as chief of police in East St. Louis.
Derick Holtmann
Belleville News-Democrat
East St. Louis Police Chief Kendall Perry returned to his post in May after leaving in January.

Depending on who you ask, Perry either abruptly retired or was among the four city staff members fired in January for reasons they say were political.

Perry told the BND in January that he learned of his dismissal for ``insubordination’’ from the photograph of a letter that he received by text on Jan. 18. He said he had not spoken to then interim City Manager Calvin Riley or Eastern about losing his job.

Perry and three other city employees said at the time they lost their jobs because they refused to support Eastern’s re-election bid.

Eastern denied that politics played a role and called their statements a "slandering insult.”

Eastern said at the time the chief was not fired but "effectively retired.”

Perry said recently he had not planned to retire. He said he had never been written up or received negative feedback on the job.

He said that perhaps some of the people he supervised who were disciplined did not like the penalties he issued for their infractions, but as police chief, it was his job to make sure department policies were followed.

Powell, the new mayor, would not agree to an interview for this article. A spokesperson said he was not taking any interviews until further notice.

Perry background, goals for the department

Perry said he is grateful to the new administration for rehiring him as chief.

Perry has been in law enforcement for 23 years. He served a four-year term as chief under Eastern.

He said his main goal is “to work a hard as I can for the citizens of East St. Louis.”

Perry says he constantly thinks about what he can do to help make the city as safe as possible.

“We are trying our best to move this city forward,” he said. “ It will take both police officers and the community working together to make this work. It will definitely take this kind cohesiveness.. this partnership.

“If someone sees something, we want them to say something. This could stop a potential problem from happening. “

Perry said it is important for people to call police and tell them what they know when they see someone commit a crime or have information to help get a dangerous person off the street.

“This information could save a life or help to capture the person or persons committing gun violence and other crimes that make the community unsafe,” he said.

Callers can be anonymous, Perry said.

Perry said when everyone gets involved, the community is safer.

Perry said Nick Mueller, who is a lieutenant in the police department, has been promoted to assistant chief.

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