79-year-old Alphonso Perry has had very few run-ins with police. The extent of his legal trouble stem from traffic infractions, his most recent a ticket for going straight in a right turning lane. He requested a hearing at the time and ultimately paid his $166 fine. Adjudication was withheld. That was over a year ago. His traffic infractions run the gamut of speeding to not having proof of insurance. But he was recently made aware of an outstanding warrant in his name. Someone called Perry and told him of the warrant for his arrest but paying the $2000 fine would clear things up.
Unbeknownst to Perry at the time, he was being scammed. The elderly man went down to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office to turn himself in. Deputies at the Flagler County Jail were more than willing to accept a new resident at their fine establishment.
Police stations around the country have warned citizens of the phone scam including the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on repeated occasions. That didn’t stop the sheriff’s office from overlooking that crucial piece of information.
After turning himself in, Perry was subjected to two and a half hours of mental anguish before being taken into the booking area.
Again, someone went into the police station to surrender for a crime and had to wait two and a half hours before being taken into the booking area. He could have walked off and said forget it. Furthermore, policy and procedure states that a warrant check must be conducted before taking him in the secure area. No check was conducted. That matter could have been resolved in minutes but after two and a half hours, Perry had yet to be processed.
The sheriff’s office was ready with excuses blaming an especially busy booking period, a relatively new detention deputy, and a shift change. Perry turning himself in on a nonexistent warrant only complicated matters further. According to Chief Steve Cole, “this has never occurred in the past.”
I’m sure it hasn’t.
Perry spent another three hours sitting in a holding cell. It wasn’t until after 8pm did a deputy begin to work on his file. A whole five hours of his day sitting around in a police station before processing began. That is when, after conducting a warrant search, realized that Perry was not a wanted man at all. In fact, he was the victim. But he was not immediately released. Instead, one official after another kept going up the chain in search of a warrant for the elderly black man. Surely he had one right?
In summary, Sara Radford, a seven-year-deputy took over intake at 6pm. She got to Perry’s file at 8. No one prior bothered to look up his information. Radford looked Perry up in the Aegis law enforcement database. There was nothing. She called dispatch who confirmed no active warrant for Perry. She looked up in the courthouse database and found nothing. Radford called her supervisor, Cpl. Peter Descartes. He called the 911 center where another search came up empty. Descartes contacted Cmdr. Glenn Davis and Cole. After more searches came up empty, Davis and Descartes went to speak with Perry. The elderly man recounted his story again. The officers came to the conclusion that Perry was being scammed. Deputies returned Perry’s property and at 8:44pm Descartes was directed to drive him home to Peach Street in an agency vehicle.
Cole, listing “contributing factors” in the incident, wrote in his memo that booking had been “unusually heavy” that day, with a total of 11 intakes and releases conducted by Lewis and “additional intakes left for night shift to complete. Deputy Lewis is a fairly new booking deputy and possibly became overwhelmed.”
Cole, according to his memo, issued a directive pointing to an existing policy that “requires all arrest paperwork must be completed prior to the arresting officer/deputy bringing the arrested subject into the detention facility.”
Apparently a significant breakdown in procedural compliance led to this black man being stuck for six hours before finally being released. It took entirely too long to look up Perry’s jacket and release him.