Two city officers among 5 Kankakee police chief finalists

February 5, 2019

KANKAKEE — Two officers from the Kankakee Police Department are among five finalists to fill the full-time Kankakee police chief position, which has been vacant for about two years.

Lt. Dave Skelly, investigation’s commander of the Kankakee Police Department, and Lt. Donnell Austin Sr., patrol commander for city police, will be considered for the position.

Resumes for the two officers were presented to the 14 Kankakee City Council members in the city council board packet late last week.

In addition to Skelly and Austin, three other resumes also were included.

Outside finalists are:

• Jonathan L. Butts, of Warrensburg: Butts has served with the Macon County Sheriff’s Department in Decatur, Ill., from May 1989 to present. A lieutenant, he ran for Macon County sheriff, but was defeated in the March 2018 primary.

• Frank Kosman, of Bensenville: Kosman served as Bensenville police chief from 2002 to retirement in mid-November 2018. He had been with the department since 1984.

• Juan Torres, of Alexandria, Va.: Torres was Oberlin, Ohio, police chief from May 2015 to January 2017. He served on the Alexandria Police Department from March 1991 through July 2015, where he was a captain and a district commander.

Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong is hoping to have a new police chief named by the end of February. The city council must approve the selection before the candidate becomes the newest police chief.

The city has been without a permanent police chief since then-Chief Larry Regnier retired the day after former Mayor Nina Epstein was defeated by Wells-Armstrong in the April 2017 municipal election. Two interim chiefs have held the job during that period.

Austin, a resident of Bourbonnais, has been patrol commander since May 2018. In his 18-year career with the city police department, he has served in numerous roles, including detective, SWAT commander and shift commander.

Austin became a sergeant in August 2009 and a lieutenant in October 2015.

Skelly, a Kankakee resident, has been a member of the Kankakee police force since April 1990. He has been investigations commander since May 2018. He became a patrol sergeant in September 1995 and patrol lieutenant in September 2002.

Skelly also is an elected commissioner for the Kankakee Valley Park District.

Neither Skelly nor Austin were among the four finalists first selected by the consulting firm which coordinated the national search. However, when one of the four finalists withdrew from consideration, the two city police officers were added as finalists because of their nearly identical scores through the application process.

The city force is being guided by Deputy Chief Willie Hunt. Hunt has been in this position since previous interim Chief Price Dumas resigned in August 2018. Dumas had been appointed interim chief in June 2017.