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Officer departs amid questions about conduct

SoVaNow.com / July 02, 2014
Clarksville Police Sgt. Wayne Pennington, formerly a member of the Southside Regional Drug Task Force, has resigned from the department amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant while serving as a task force officer.

Clarksville Police Chief Ricky Wilkinson confirmed that Pennington is no longer employed by either the Clarksville Police Department or the drug task force, saying “he resigned to pursue other opportunities.” Pennington’s last day working for the town was May 9, 2014.

According to sources close to the investigation, Pennington’s alleged relationship with a confidential informant could have obstructed an ongoing criminal investigation. Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said they did not know of any evidence to show that Pennington’s relationship with the confidential informant impacted any ongoing investigations, positively or negatively. But, they say the relationship was discovered because the informant complained to Virginia State Police. State Police then removed Pennington from the drug task force, taking back his state credentials.

While no longer a member of the task force, Pennington was still a member of the Clarksville Police Department. It was up to town officials to decide whether his actions warranted his dismissal, according to a source who asked to remain anonymous, citing the sensitivity of the matter. Before that decision was made, however, Pennington was allowed to resign.

Once active with Dixie Youth softball in Clarksville, for which he served as a Commissioner, Pennington withdrew his affiliation with that organization earlier this year, other sources indicated.

No charges have been filed against Pennington, although Mecklenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nora Miller said the matter has been referred to the Virginia State Police for an investigation. Oversight of the investigation has been assigned to a special prosecutor, Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney, Donald Caldwell.

When contacted, Caldwell said he recalled receiving a call from Miller about a month ago, but as far as he knew, had not been appointed special prosecutor in the case.

Caldwell said he would check into his status and offer a statement, but as of press time he had not called The Sun with a response. Also contacted was Corinne Geller, spokesperson for the Virginia State Police, who was asked to confirm or deny whether State Police is actively investigating Pennington. She was unavailable for comment at press time.

Before his resignation, Pennington was a 15-year veteran of the Clarksville police force, and had served on the Southside Drug Task Force for about five years.

The Southside Drug Task Force, which began in 1988, is among the first units of its kind in Virginia. The Task Force is made up of officers with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia Alcohol, Beverage and Control Department, Chase City Police Department, Clarksville Police Department, South Hill Police Department and Virginia State Police.

The primary mission of the Southside Drug Task Force is to combat the flow of illicit and illegal drugs in Mecklenburg County. The task force seeks to pool resources among various law enforcement agencies to stem sales and distribution of illegal drugs.

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Sounds like a repeat of Major Pulliam in Halifax.

Comments

"Every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners, saints"

I've never understood how and why people in such positions manage to entangle themselves in messes like this, but I've known plenty of cops who've done it. You'd think they'd maintain professional distance and be better judges of character. Instead, they throw away their careers over people who by very nature of the relationship have questionable scruples.

Maybe I expect too much from LE.


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