Pennington on public intoxication arrest: 'I made a mistake'
A video of the press conference can be found here: http://bentoncourier.com/content/video-sheriffs-press-conference-after-w...
Saline County Sheriff Bruce Pennington says he takes full responsibility for an error in judgment Saturday night that led to his arrest on two misdemeanor charges and a brief detainment by the Benton Police Department.
Pennington apologized for his actions Monday afternoon during a news conference at his office, blaming no one other than himself while simultaneously commending police department personnel for "doing their job."
"I made a mistake and I'm here today to apologize to the citizens of Saline County," he said. "Nothing like this will ever happen again.
"I broke a rule and I will pay my fines," he said.
In the conference, Pennington stated that earlier accounts saying he had been charged with public intoxication were not accurate.
"I was charged with drinking in public and failure to submit to arrest," he said. "I will pay my fines and we'll go on from here."
Benton Police Chief confirmed Monday that the official police report states that the charge was public intoxication.
In the conference, Pennington reiterated his pledge that "nothing like this will ever happen again because of my poor judgment."
The incident that led to the arrest occurred about 7:45 p.m. at Denton's Trotline in Benton.
In response to a query about how much he had to drink, he said, "Two drinks."
He said he knew he needed to leave the restaurant, which was extremely busy. He said he had already gotten into his car and had texted a friend to come pick him up, but the police arrived in advance of his friend.
Pennington said he realized he did not need to be driving. He said he had had nothing to eat and had worked in his yard all day.
"At no time was the key in the ignition," he noted. "I could have easily driven off, but I wouldn't do that.
"I'm human, though, and I will pay for this," he said.
He said he was raised to accept the consequences for his actions.
Pennington was not given a sobriety test, he said.
The arresting officer, Lt. Mike Kassel, transported Pennington to the Benton Police Department, where Chief Kirk Lane and Kassel remained with him for more than three hours, Lt. Kevin Russell said previously.
Pennington was asked about earlier reports stating that he had become belligerent during the incident.
He referred to the numerous alcohol-related arrests he has made during his career and said he "never saw one that was happy."
"I can just say this will never happen again with me," he added.
He said he never requested special treatment during the incident.
Pennington noted that he has been in law enforcement for 40 years, 24 of which were with the Arkansas State Police. He retired from that agency around 1996, following an investigation into DWI allegations that he says were "unfounded."
He said those allegations were brought against him by another trooper who, Pennington says, was involved with his former wife, and the allegations were dismissed, he said. "Nothing ever came of them," he said.
In response to a question, Pennington said he does not believe he has a drinking problem.
"I stand accountable for my actions," he said. "I'm human. I made a mistake."
Look for the full story in Tuesday's issue of The Saline Courier.