CAMDEN By PATRIC FLANNIGAN
The Camden Police Department has relieved an officer of his duties pending an investigation into an incident where he reportedly choked a Camden Fairview High School student.
CPD Chief Bo Woody invited members of local media to his office to discuss an incident that showed CPD Officer Jake Perry appearing to choke a Camden Fairview High School student, lifting him off of the ground while attempting to detain him. Perry was assigned to work as a School Resource Officer at CFHS this month.
“Because of the video I saw, effective immediately, Officer Perry has been relieved of his duties pending the investigation and the outcome of it,” Woody said. “I just wanted everybody to know, including the Mayor (Julian Lott) that as the police chief, I’m not going to tolerate misconduct from officers from this department.
“I will deal with the matter accordingly and I will be as transparent and open with everything I do for anybody that ask. I’m just an hour into this thing so I really don’t have a lot other than, yes I have seen the video posted on Facebook. I had just a brief conversation with Officer Perry and he is now giving statements to the investigators. I assigned one of my captains from the CID over this investigation and we will have an outcome hopefully by the end of the week.”
Woody said that the student and his parent will also come in for interviews and that he has officers already at the high school working to get footage. He confirmed that Perry was wearing a body camera but said that he hasn’t viewed it yet.
“We will look in to everything then I will give my findings to the mayor and make this public,” Woody said. “I would like to add that the onset of this the video does appear that force was excessive. Just from what I saw on the video is the reason we are going to do this investigation and handle it accordingly. And like I said, I won’t tolerate it if its true.”
Woody said that Perry has been with the CPD for two or three years and said that during his brief conversation with him, Perry said he was responding to a report of a fight and was trying to detain the student.
“But the CPD and all law enforcement, we have policy and procedures on how we detain a subject,” Woody explained. “What you see is what I see and I’ll find out and give you an answer as to rather or not that was unlawful…. We take a lot of things in to consideration when we arrest somebody. Of course, age is one of them. Rather they’re young or rather they’re old. Technically the procedure is supposed to be the same but we do use discretion on age or maybe even gender at times.”
Shortly after the Camden News spoke with Woody, the CF School District released a statement from CFSD Superintendent Fred Lilly saying the district was aware of the incident.
“I have been informed that the officer involved has been relieved of duty pending an investigation by CPD,” the release states. “CFSD will fully cooperate with the CPD’s investigation. In order to prevent similar incident from occurring in the future, CFSD will work with the CPD to ensure that current policies and procedures for all SRO’s stationed at CFSD schools are reviewed and revised if necessary. CFSD’s first priority is, and will continue to be, to provide an excellent education to all of our student in a safe environment.”