FORMER SHERIFF SENTENCED TO PRISON - SCSO MOVING FORWARD
Building and maintaining community trust is the cornerstone of successful policing and law enforcement. The building and maintenance of trust takes a great deal of continuous effort. Unfortunately, the ethical work of an entire department is easily undone by the actions of one unethical officer.
Mr. Bruce Pennington, while serving the people of Saline County, did not adhere to the oath that he rose his right hand and swore to. On December 7, 2015, in United States Federal Court, Mr. Pennington stood before a Federal judge and entered a guilty plea to one count of Wire Fraud. Mr. Pennington was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison, three years probation and a $2,500 fine.
This was the final chapter to a book which was written beginning in December, 2007. In short, the integrity of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) was called into question and the level of community trust was diminished during Mr. Pennington’s tenure.
Lessons can be learned from the book that was written while Mr. Pennington was in office. From those lessons, a new book was started 11 months ago when Sheriff Rodney Wright was sworn in as the new Saline County Sheriff. From January 1, 2015 until today, the Sheriff’s Office has undergone a number of critical and necessary changes, rubbing off whatever tarnish that remained on the SCSO’s badge.
The modifications implemented by Sheriff Wright and his Command Staff, have changed the direction of the SCSO 180 degrees. Building a bridge between the SCSO and the community has helped re-shape trust, integrity and respect. One of Sheriff Wright’s primary goals was to deliver high quality services so that the citizens of Saline County could share in a safe and healthy environment. The SCSO has made tremendous strides in achieving that goal.
The word “accountability” is used daily by Sheriff Wright and all members of the SCSO are held to a much higher standard, responsible for their actions and are answerable to their commanding officers, but more importantly, to the citizens of Saline County.
The SCSO will continue to strive daily to build strong, trusting community-police relationships. Although there have been significant advances at the SCSO over the past 11 months, we have more work to do. The SCSO must continue to reevaluate, recommit, and renew our focus on sustaining trusting relationships with all segments of the community. This change takes time, patience, and when successful, results in the betterment of all.