Saline County Sheriff's Office Under Investigation - River Valley Leader: Arkansas News

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Saline County Sheriff's Office Under Investigation

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Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013 8:25 am

SALINE COUNTY, AR- Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington is out, but trouble may just be starting at the Sheriff's Office. 

A Special Prosecutor is now ordered to investigate a list of allegations within the department. This comes after Pennington pleaded guilty in August to public intoxication and resisting arrest.

On Friday, Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland asked Arkansas State Police to investigate so they can get to the bottom of this.

"It's important I think to note this," said Special Prosecutor Cody Hiland. "This is not a reflection on Saline County and its people and its leadership. These are the actions of a few and we shouldn't let the actions of a few color what are really good people, people who go to work every day and do their jobs and just want to be served well by their public servants. 

"Thus far, they haven't been served well by their sheriff and that's unfortunate, but that's the truth of the matter."

Hiland will be looking at whether Pennington's removal from office is appropriate in light of his recent criminal convictions. 

He'll also investigate possible mishandling of funds, after reports surfaced Pennington used the sheriff's office credit card and campaign funds for personal use. 

In addition, Hiland will look at what happened to a missing patrol car and alleged misconduct by employees of the office.

"I don't think it's limited to anything at this point. We're looking at a lot of things and can't really go into a lot of details since it is an investigation," said Hiland.

It's an investigation Pennington said he welcomes. 

He explained he's done nothing wrong, that his office has done business the same way the last five years. However, the consistent allegations this past month is giving the office a bad rap.

"We're going to see what's going on, and at the end of the day if something should be prosecuted, we're going to prosecute it no matter who's involved and what their position is," said Hiland.

Aside from this investigation, Pennington requested Arkansas State Police to investigat two deputies at his office for criminal activity. However, State Police responded back to his letter and declined the request.

The deadline to apply for interim sheriff is Friday. The Saline County Quorum Court is expected to make a decision next week. 

Hiland says with everything going on, this will be a distraction for the person stepping in as interim sheriff. He thinks a new sheriff is something that's necessary to begin healing and for that to begin, they've got to get to the bottom of the problem, which they will do.

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