Cradduck keeps his certification

Posted: September 1, 2017 at 1:05 a.m.

File Photo/NWA Democrat-Gazette Former Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck walks to the Benton County Courthouse on April 29, 2016, in Bentonville. Cradduck pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor tampering charge and received six months on probation and a $500 fine. Cradduck was allowed to keep his certification to be a law enforcement officer in a close ruling Thursday.

BENTONVILLE -- Former Benton County Sheriff Kelley Cradduck was allowed to keep his certification to be a law enforcement officer in a close ruling Thursday.

The 4-3 decision was made by the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training at a meeting in Camden. Certification is needed to be a sworn law enforcement officer in Arkansas.

Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith filed the complaint with the commission and testified at the meeting.

"Reasonable people can disagree and I respect their decision," Smith said afterward. "The important thing is that Benton County has been able to heal and get over it."

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Rogers attorney Drew Miller, who represents Cradduck, couldn't be reached for comment.

Cradduck pleaded no contest to felony and misdemeanor tampering charges in April 2016. He was placed on unsupervised probation for six months and had to pay $670 in court costs. The case has since been expunged. Cradduck resigned the same month.

Cradduck encouraged Sheriff's Office employees on Oct. 13, 2015, to lie to Arkansas State Police investigators, according to Jason Barrett, the special prosecutor assigned to the case.

State Police investigated Cradduck's hiring of Gabriel Cox to work at the jail and whether Cradduck ordered payroll records for Cox to be altered to show a hiring date earlier than when he started to work. A felony charge that involved Cox's hiring paperwork later was dropped.

Cradduck said he wanted to help Cox, who was homeless, by hiring him to work in the jail. Cox lived with Cradduck at the time, according to court documents.

Cradduck finished third in the Republican primary in March 2016 won by current Sheriff Shawn Holloway in a later runoff.

Cradduck was sworn in as sheriff on Jan. 1, 2013.

This was not the first time the commission had to decide whether a law enforcement officer from Benton County should keep his certification.

The commission ruled former Bella Vista police officer Coleman "Duke" Brackney could keep his certification after a hearing in April 2012.

Brackney pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor negligent homicide following the Jan. 20, 2010, shooting death of James Ahern after Ahern led Brackney on a high-speed pursuit that ended near the corner of Harlan Lane and Arkansas 340.

He was fired from the Bella Vista Police Department after an internal investigation determined he violated department policy. Brackney is now police chief in Sulphur Springs.

Miller also represented Brackney at his hearing.

NW News on 09/01/2017