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Dart Plans To Take Over Police Duties In Robbins

ROBBINS, Ill. (STMW) -- Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart plans to meet Wednesday with Robbins officials regarding sheriff's police taking command of the south suburb's troubled police department.

Dart announced the plan after Robbins police and village officials failed to remove a police administrator whose policing credentials have been challenged by a state regulatory agency.

"It's abundantly clear we have problems here," Dart said of the village's police department. "The reality of it is we have had dropped on our lap unmistakable information that the department has issues that go beyond the norm. It's not functioning as any (police) department should function. When that occurs, we have to intervene."

Kevin McClain, executive director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, sent a letter last week to Robbins Mayor Tyrone Ward and Police Chief Melvin Davis, informing them that the state board was unable to verify the law enforcement history of police Capt. Douglas Smith.

Smith was hired in August for the part-time job overseeing internal affairs for the police department.

McClain said the board's inquiry into Smith has raised serious questions about his employment history and qualifications for the position.

McClain demanded that Smith, 61, be removed from any policing duties for the village immediately, suggesting that he would be charged with impersonating a police officer and unlawful use of weapons if he continued working for the police department.

McClain also informed Ward and Davis that they could be charged with official misconduct if they allowed Smith to remain in his post.

Smith is carrying a gun on the job without having taken mandatory firearms training, which is illegal in Illinois, according to McClain.

Cara Smith, Dart's chief of policy and communications, said her office reached out to Ward last Thursday about removing Smith from the police force, but he was still working there as of Monday.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Douglas Smith said he quit the job Monday after learning of the state board's threat to arrest him. That could not be confirmed Tuesday.

While he appreciated Dart's help, Davis said earlier Tuesday that he felt his department could adequately handle policing duties in the small village.

"As far as us running this ship, we are more than qualified and capable even with the problem with Douglas," Davis said.

Cara Smith said Douglas Smith's claim that he had quit did not change Dart's plans.

"We have been given different stories every time we talk to them (Ward and Davis) about the status of that man (Smith)," she said. "That's sort of the tip of the iceberg."

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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