CENTERTON, Ark. (KNWA) — The Benton County Prosecutor has asked Arkansas State Police to take over a criminal investigation into multiple allegations of misconduct by officers of the Centerton Police department. This comes just days after Centerton Mayor Bill Edwards fired Chief Cody Harper and Captain Kris Arthur.
On Friday morning Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith said the main areas of the investigation include allegations that an officer or officers may have misappropriated city property or used credit cards for personal purchases. Secondly, an allegation that Centerton PD may have violated Arkansas Speed Trap Law.
“They are entrusted with the city business, and anytime that there is misappropriation or any theft that’s related to their job, they have abused that position of authority,” Criminal Defense Attorney Cody Dowden said. “There’s actually a statute of abuse of office that pertains specifically to public servants.”
Dowden says once you hit a $1,000 or more of theft on a credit card, it becomes a class D felony.
“If you are a public servant the threshold lowers to $500,” Dowden said.
Smith emphasized this investigation does not mean any officers have been found guilty.
“This is not to paint law enforcement with a broad brush, not to paint Centerton with a broad brush, but I do think we have the obligation to investigate allegations when they come up and make sure the public understands no one is above the law, not prosecutors, not police officers,” Smith said. “I also think the appearance of fairness is important, and certainly by bringing in officers who don’t live here, don’t have anything to do with anything going on, I think that will help.”