Add To Favorites
Perry retires as special sheriff in Barnstable
Cape Cod Times - 2/6/2021
Feb. 6—Jeffrey Perry, a longtime politician and law enforcement official whose career has been dotted by scandal, retired from his role as special sheriff at the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office last week.
Perry has held the second-in-command post since 2011, when he lost a bid to represent the now-disbanded 10th U.S. Congressional District. Before that, Perry represented the 5th Barnstable District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 2002 to 2011.
Sheriff James Cummings described Perry, who retired Jan. 29, as a sort of jack of all trades in his role as special sheriff. He helped oversee day-to-day operations at the House of Corrections and the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, worked with local police to provide technical assistance including K-9 units when needed and pitched in with personnel matters and communications efforts.
Perry worked especially hard to improve the office's presence on social media during his tenure, Cummings said.
By upping the Sheriff's Office social media game and using connections from his political career, Perry was able to expand a program in which the Sheriff's Office uses inmate work crews to do public service projects — including painting, landscaping and other odd jobs — in Cape towns.
Ross Alper, promoted from his job as a superintendent, has now assumed the role of special sheriff.
Alper, who has worked for the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office for 35 years, will be paid $139,551.15, the same salary that Perry had upon his retirement.
Cummings, who said he prefers to promote from within, said Alper has held just about every position in the Sheriff's Office — from sergeant to lieutenant to captain to assistant deputy superintendent to superintendent — so he's well-versed in the operations of different departments within the organization.
"It was an easy choice," Cummings said.
Alper shadowed his predecessor for six weeks, Cummings said, so he won't have a steep learning curve as he settles into his new role.
Cummings said Alper doesn't have major plans for his new position other than keeping operations running smoothly. That could change when the COVID-19 crisis dissipates.
The Sheriff's Office has faced a major reduction in workload since the onset of the coronavirus, which cut the jail's population from roughly 425 people in spring 2020 down to its current population of 177, according to Cummings.
"Because of the virus we're not able to really get anything new started, so hopefully when that goes away we can get back to some type of normalcy," Cummings said. "I'm sure Ross will come up with some ideas to help reduce the recidivism rate and get back out and help the community out as much as we can, things that we actually aren't doing now just because of the virus."
Though it is unclear what he'll do next, Perry's retirement caps another chapter in a long public-facing career that has repeatedly put him in the spotlight.
Perry began his work in law enforcement at the Wareham Police Department, where he was a sergeant. He left the department in 1993 following scrutiny for his role as the supervisor of an officer, Scott Flanagan, who eventually pleaded guilty to two illegal strip searches of teenage girls in the 1990s.
One of the victims of the illegal strip searches, Lisa Allen, said Perry, who was on scene at the time of the 1991 strip search, ignored her screams for help and tried to cover up for his colleague.
Perry was never disciplined by the Wareham Police Department for his role in the scandal, and has repeatedly denied those accusations. He was named in civil lawsuits stemming from the illegal searches, but the complaints against him were ultimately dismissed.
Perry also came under fire in 2010 when a former executive director of a state commission advocating for victims of sexual abuse surfaced questions about his application to the Massachusetts bar, in which Perry said one of the strip search victims was "arrested" when in fact neither of the girls ever faced criminal charges.
Perry, an attorney who co-founded a local law practice, was also involved in a flap involving a fraudulent college where he said he thought he'd earned a legitimate bachelor's degree in business administration. Federal authorities say Columbia State University, where Perry got the degree, was a diploma mill run by a renowned con artist and former hypnotist who mailed out advanced degrees in less than a month.
Perry said he didn't know the school was fake until someone pulled him aside in 2002 after he included his Columbia State degree on his campaign website.
In 2011, Cummings hired Perry, his friend and political ally, without posting the special sheriff job publicly, saying at the time, "It's not the type of job you advertise for."
"You search for someone who is a good fit for you," Cummings said. "He has to watch your back. You want someone you can trust in that position."
Perry's starting salary was $110,000 annually.
On Tuesday, Cummings said he was drawn to Perry's experience as a law enforcement officer, an attorney, a lawmaker and a small business owner. Combined, Perry's experience made him well-suited to manage a public safety organization with a roughly $30 million budget that is influenced by decisions on Beacon Hill, Cummings said.
"I am personally going to miss Jeff," Cummings said. "He did a great job, he was a great special sheriff and worked hard for the community. You just couldn't meet a more honest and dedicated guy than Jeff Perry."
Attempts to reach Perry through Cummings' office were unsuccessful.
Jeannette Hinkle is a reporter for The Cape Cod Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @Jenny_Hinkle.
(c)2021 Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
Visit Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass. at www.capecodtimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.