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Robbins police chief fired

Cook County Sheriff Department officials Frank Bilecki CarSmith address
Robbins residents Thursday night about problems withvillage's police department.  |

Cook County Sheriff Department officials Frank Bilecki and Cara Smith address Robbins residents Thursday night about problems within the village's police department. | Casey Toner/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 23, 2013 3:04PM



Robbins Police Chief Mel Davis was fired Wednesday night amid a state investigation into the apparently phony law enforcement history of a part-time police captain who quit this week.

Davis said he was made the scapegoat for the controversy over the hiring of Douglas J. Smith to head the police department’s internal affairs bureau.

“I’m disappointed, sad, frustrated and angry at the same time,” Davis said. “I did due diligence when I did my job. I got trampled over.”

The SouthtownStar reported that a state regulatory agency sent a letter to Davis and Mayor Tyrone Ward on Nov. 14, threatening to pursue charges against Smith for impersonating a police officer and unlawful use of weapons if he stayed on the job.

If Smith were not removed immediately, Davis and Ward could be charged with official misconduct, according to the letter from Kevin McClain, executive director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

Smith, 61, of South Holland, carried a handgun throughout his three months as a Robbins police captain, even though he did not complete mandatory firearm training as required under state law.

Davis said he sent an email to village officials Nov. 14, asking permission to fire Smith and saying he had Smith’s termination papers drawn up. No one got back to him, he said.

“At this point, I’m at a loss for words,” Davis said, adding that he learned of his firing through a letter mailed to his house.

He declined to say who sent him the letter, saying only that it came from “village officials.”

Davis said he believes the department is now being run by Deputy Chief Hashi Jaco, who introduced him to Smith.

But Jaco said Thursday night that he has not been appointed acting police chief and is unaware of who’s in charge of the police force now that Davis has been dismissed.

Ward could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Ward tapped Davis to be police chief in May, five months after about 200 rape kits, some nearly 30 years old, had languished untested in a police department evidence room. Davis’ salary was set at $50,000.

Davis and Smith were among the police officers whom Ward pledged during an August news conference would clean up the department.

Authorities in Los Angeles, New Jersey and Georgia, where Smith claims to have worked in law enforcement, told investigators for the state training board that their records did not indicate that Smith ever worked for them, according to documents obtained by the SouthtownStar.

Those documents also show that Smith submitted to investigators as proof of his past employment with the Los Angeles Police Department a photocopy of an LAPD badge bearing the number 714 — the badge number of the fictional character Sgt. Joe Friday from the old TV show, “Dragnet.”

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announced this week that he wants his department to take over the Robbins police force, citing mismanagement and serious problems within the department, including the hiring of Smith.

Sheriff’s police have been assisting Robbins police with murder investigations, rape cases and patrols since February.

Cara Smith, Dart’s chief of policy and communications, said Thursday evening that Davis’ firing makes the sheriff’s proposal all the more necessary.

“There’s no one running the ship,” she said. “There’s an absence of leadership in the police department, and that’s as close to a crisis as you can get.”

While welcoming the sheriff’s police assistance, Ward has rejected the idea of them taking over the police department.



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