Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington has again announced he will retire effective Oct. 1, reverting to a plan he originally announced after pleading guilty to alcohol-related charges before abruptly changing course.
Pennington last week pleaded guilty to charges of public intoxication and refusal to submit to arrest filed after a June 29 arrest at a Benton restaurant.
Last Friday, he submitted a one-line letter to Saline County Judge Lanny Fite and the Quorum Court saying he would retire Oct. 1.
But Pennington days later rescinded that letter, saying he intended to stay in office and run for reelection.
Rhonda Richards, Quorum Court administrative assistant, said Friday afternoon by phone that the court had just received a new letter from Pennington saying he would retire Oct. 1 after all.
The two-sentence retirement letter, dated Friday, makes no mention of the guilty plea.
JoNell Mallory, chief deputy of finance for the sheriff's office, said Pennington submitted his letter shortly before 2 p.m. and informed the county judge there would not be any more shifts.
"He will not change his mind," Mallory said, noting Pennington has already filled out his retirement paperwork.
Pennington's secretary said he was out of the office for the rest of the day and unavailable for comment.
Richards said a special meeting of the court is being planned to declare a vacancy in the office. It's set for 2 p.m. Saturday.
Pennington's latest letter comes after the Saline County prosecutor told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette earlier this week that he wanted to explore removing Pennington from office and whether an investigation should be conducted into the disappearance of a patrol car from the sheriff's office.
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.
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.