New Rutherford County Sheriff Continues Shakeup - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

New Rutherford County Sheriff Continues Shakeup

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by Jeff Tang

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.-   A new sheriff in town means some new top brass at the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Robert Arnold announced new promotions in his department, after narrowly defeating longtime incumbent Truman Jones in a heated election. While the promotions are likely deserved, it meant that others will have to be demoted.

Some new information calls into question: what's behind some of the demotions.

Sheriff Arnold said he's promoted the people he believes will succeed at their new positions, but critics claimed he's forcing out officers who are already getting the job done.

"As a transition of any political office, you bring in your own people and you promote and bring in trusted people. That's what we did," said Sheriff Arnold.

Arnold promoted 30 officers on Wednesday afternoon, but for almost every move up there was also a move down-- or out.

Bill Kennedy served with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office for 19 years and oversaw the SRO division.

"My time with the Sheriff's Office was great," Kennedy said. "The SRO office won many national awards."

But the major apparently wasn't part of the new Sheriff's plans.

"He was going to demote me, without cause, seven ranks to a detention officer," said Kennedy.

In 2009, Kennedy was part of a review team that demoted then SRO Robert Arnold for failing to investigate a possible gun at his school. Kennedy speculates this is his payback

"You spend your life dedicated to the youth of Rutherford County, and in a few seconds it's taken away," he said.

Kennedy was one of 16 employees who left the department, while 12 employees took demotions. 

"We did a rank restructuring, and saved the county somewhere between 40 and 60 thousand dollars," said Arnold. "I knew who I could work with and who I probably couldn't."

Sheriff Arnold said he offered jobs to every employee, but some simply chose to leave.

Bill Kennedy is currently looking for a new job and is considering taking legal action against the new Sheriff.

Sheriff Arnold also spoke about the firing of embattled Detective Ron Killings, who hit and killed an 11-year-old girl in his patrol car.  Arnold said he was forced into making the decision after outgoing Sheriff Truman Jones chose to re-hire Killings before leaving office.

Email: jtang@newschannel5.com

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