Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington announced he will retire effective Oct. 1, a decision that comes just days after he entered a guilty plea to alcohol-related charges.
Pennington on Monday pleaded guilty to charges of public intoxication and refusal to submit to arrest filed after a June 29 arrest at a Benton restaurant.
In a one-line resignation letter to Saline County Judge Lanny Fite and the Quorum Court, Pennington said only that he would be retiring Oct. 1. He made no mention of the arrest or subsequent guilty plea.
A woman who answered the phone at Fite's office said Fite was gone for the day and not available for comment.
Pennington's charges stem from officers being called to Denton’s Trotline to investigate a report of a "very intoxicated individual getting into a vehicle," police said.
Officers reportedly found an intoxicated Pennington at the scene and tried to persuade him to have someone pick him up, but he became "belligerent" and was arrested, authorities said.
Video from the night was said to show Pennington pushing officers, refusing to be put in handcuffs and refusing to take a breath test. Cody Hiland, the Faulkner County prosecutor who was appointed to the case because it involved the county sheriff, called the event an "embarrassment to law enforcement" and to Saline County citizens.
Hiland on Friday said the retirement was "probably best for everybody."
"The office of sheriff is an office of public trust," Hiland said. "If an elected official has lost the trust of the people he serves, it's probably best that he step aside."
Hiland said he wasn't surprised by the decision, but that he and Pennington had not discussed it and it was not a condition of the plea deal.
On Monday after his plea, Pennington said he was entering an "in-patient treatment facility" to address "personal issues." The judge fined him $3,000 plus court costs.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.