Deputy Do-Wrong

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Perry, however, stayed on for more than two years — despite an increasing number of complaints. In one of the most egregious of those cases, involving a dog attack, county prosecutors considered criminally charging Perry.

In that incident, Perry pulled his red Dodge pickup into the parking lot of Townline Auto, a small mom-and-pop repair shop in Guilford, about six miles west of Madison. Perry saw Richard Fiengo, a friend who was the shop owner's son, sitting in a car in the lot. Standing beside that car was Carl Jordan Jr., a tall, husky 19-year-old who was checking with Fiengo to see if his mother's car had been repaired.

Perry got out of his pickup with his pet German shepherd, Thor, on an extendable leash. He'd gotten the dog from Todd Carlson, the K-9 handler with the nearby Clinton Police Department. Carlson had worked with Thor for two years, but the hound had washed out of the program.

Perry and Fiengo were friends, and apparently the officer had jokingly set his dog after the man several times in the past — humor that Fiengo told police later he didn't appreciate. Approaching the car, Perry told Thor "Get him. Get Rich," according to statements made to the police. Thor lunged at the car door, but Fiengo rolled up the window as the dog snapped. The canine immediately turned to Jordan and bit into his Levi jeans in the right-front pocket area, tearing a foot-long hole.

Perry didn't know it at the time, but Jordan was the son of Madison's deputy police chief, who subsequently insisted that the department conduct an internal affairs investigation into the matter. Perry was evasive in his statement to investigators, at first denying that the dog bit anyone. The dog's trainer, Carlson, told investigators that Perry had been curious about Thor's police training to a degree that "was very intense, bordering on unhealthy."

The Guilford PD found sufficient probable cause to charge Perry with reckless endangerment, a second-degree felony, and the department submitted an arrest warrant to the State Attorney's Office. Perry was eventually given a written reprimand for his conduct. As in the past, he wouldn't take responsibility for his actions, as evidenced by a union grievance he filed over the matter. "All pets are just that, pets," he wrote in his grievance, which was ultimately denied. "Their actions should not be the basis for discipline."

Later that year, the department investigated Perry for barging into an ex-girlfriend's house at 2 in the morning. The investigation concluded that "the lack of discretion Officer Perry displayed brought discredit to himself and this agency."

Police Chief James Cameron cajoled the city's Board of Police Commissioners to fire Perry, writing that Perry "continues to make decisions involving both his on- and off-duty conduct that continually bring this department and the town of Madison into disrepute." And the costs of investigating this one officer was mushrooming, he added.

Cameron lost that battle, but in 1997, he pleaded with the board once again to fire Perry over two incidents involving poor conduct with the public. With the noose slowly tightening around his neck, Perry resigned from the Madison force late that year.

Like a badge-toting Eveready bunny, Perry kept going. After a brief stint as a patrolman in the City of New Fairfield, he began working as a field investigator for an insurance company and as a part-time patrolman for the Town of Washington, a tiny burg of 4,000 people in the state's rural northwest.

By the fall of 2000, however, the head constable had placed Perry on temporary leave for allegedly harassing another former live-in girlfriend. The alleged harassment victim also claimed that Perry had sneaked into her home to take some jewelry. In a memo to the town's top elected official, Alan Chapin, who was the de facto police chief, the department's head constable wrote that Perry "demonstrates a lack of maturity on his part that presents questions as to whether or not he can be trusted to carry out the functions of a police officer." He anticipated meeting with an assistant state attorney to discuss possible criminal charges. Three weeks later, on August 30, 2000, Chapin formally asked Perry for his resignation. He fired Perry two weeks later after getting no response.

Far to the south, Perry was applying for a job with BSO.

Perry's law enforcement transgressions in Connecticut should have made him unemployable as a cop. After all, what better to judge a job candidate by than his track record?

BSO has a lengthy application process that involves medical and psychological examinations, drug screening, and a background investigation that includes employment, personal, and neighborhood references. For the past eight years, many of those background investigations have been contracted out to Five Star Investigations, owned by Richard Barrett, a former BSO deputy captain who retired in 1997. Under Barrett's original contract, BSO paid him $60 per applicant and $8.50 per employment verification he made. In August 2000, those terms were changed to $100 per applicant, which would include two employer verifications, and $10.75 for each additional verification.

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Wyatt Olson
Contact: Wyatt Olson