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State looks into chief’s actions

August 22, 2018 GMT

The Illinois State Police said Tuesday its investigation into a former Kankakee police official’s use of a state criminal database is “open and ongoing.”

However, a city attorney informed the City Council the day before he was told by state investigators that former interim Police Chief Price Dumas’ use of the database was “perfectly proper” and that no violations occurred.

Presented with the state police’s statement, the city’s corporation counsel, Michael McGrath, said in an email that his law firm had not been advised of any open state police investigation.

“Since you have been advised there is an open investigation,” McGrath told the Daily Journal, “I will not comment further, as that is the position my office takes if we are informed there is an open or pending investigation.”

McGrath did not return phone messages Tuesday and has yet to identify which investigators in state government told him Dumas’ actions were proper.

Dumas resigned Friday, about three weeks after the Daily Journal reported he used the state’s criminal database to investigate two critics of Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong.

Dumas was appointed by the mayor last summer, but the council thrice voted against him as the permanent chief. The mayor kept him on interim status.

Last month, the Daily Journal obtained a document showing that Dumas had searched the criminal backgrounds of mayoral critics Jim Menz and Jake Collins on the state Law Enforcement Agencies Data System, or LEADS. The database cannot be used for personal purposes.

In a brief interview last month, Dumas said he investigated one critic, Jim Menz, because Menz had posted a photo of the mayor’s city car parked at City Hall on Facebook.

Menz complained in the post that the mayor had upgraded her city vehicle. His post got hundreds of comments, including one by Jake Collins, who questioned the mayor’s personal financial situation.

“You can post anything about me you want on Facebook, but not the mayor. She is a protected class,” Dumas said, without citing legal authority.

Dumas said he couldn’t remember why he looked into Collins.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, McGrath said because law enforcement viewed the two men as a threat to a public official, the chief’s actions were justified.

The Daily Journal emailed questions to McGrath about why the city saw Menz and Collins as threats, but he didn’t reply. The newspaper submitted a public records request for the information.

Wells-Armstrong didn’t return a message for comment.