A Faulkner County sheriff's deputy who is a candidate in the upcoming Faulkner County sheriff's election resigned Tuesday after being placed on administrative leave Monday afternoon.
Rocky Lawrence was placed on leave by Sheriff Karl Byrd, who said Tuesday that Lawrence told the investigator assigned to look into his case that he had resigned. Byrd said Lawrence had not spoken to him personally about his resignation nor given a reason for his decision. Byrd declined to comment on the investigation until it is concluded.
"There is an internal investigation and depending on the results of the it, full disclosure will be made at that time," he said. "I spoke with him (Lawrence) on Monday to place him on administrative leave but I have not spoken with him in reference to his resignation."
While Byrd would not comment on the situation, he said the investigation into Lawrence's conduct was not politically motivated. Lawrence is one of five candidates who have thrown their hats into the ring to replace Byrd when he retires in 2012. Another candidate running for the position is fellow FCSO employee, Maj. Andy Shock. Byrd said that the investigation into the allegations made against Lawrence was not based on an attempt to eliminate Lawrence from contention.
"This decision is not political at all," Byrd said. "It does not bother me if Rocky is running against Andy; everyone is entitled to run. I hate that this situation happened, but I can't ignore it just because he's running for sheriff. Legally, I have to investigate it; if I didn't, I could face litigation. Law enforcement officers are held to a standard, and when allegations are made, they have to be investigated."
Lawrence has been employed as a deputy for three years and worked as a volunteer for a year prior to full-time employment with the department.
He issued this statement Monday in reference to being placed on administrative leave:
"Earlier this afternoon Sheriff Karl Byrd informed me that I was being placed on administrative leave," he said. "Since I always do my best to follow department policy, I will not comment any further until I meet with my attorney, and my hearing is complete. However, I will say that I am very proud of my record as a deputy sheriff and don't intend to let politics tarnish it. The citizens of Faulkner County have long deserved a Sheriff who works for them. I plan to be that Sheriff and nothing like this will sway me from this goal. I will be issuing a full statement on the details of this matter later this week".
On Tuesday, he released the following statement regarding his resignation:
"Earlier today, I made the very difficult decision to resign my position with the Faulkner County Sheriff's Office. With the investigation ongoing, any comment would be inappropriate at this time."
(Candie Beck is a staff writer and can be reached at 505-1238 or at email@example.com)