POCAHONTAS, Ark. – Chief of Police Cecil Tackett resigned from the Pocahontas Police Department on Wednesday morning, January 9, 2019.
“I had information that the mayor was going to get rid of me today, so I just wanted to turn my resignation in and retired this morning,” Tackett told NEA Report.
Shortly after the open of business Wednesday morning, Tackett turned in his resignation to the newly-elected mayor, Keith Sutton. Tackett has held the job at the top of PPD since 2011. He said by retiring, the city must pay him for his sick days. Tackett believed he was getting fired this morning, he said.
“Back before the election, he said that’s one thing he wasn’t going to do,” Tackett said. “He wasn’t going to come in here and clean house. He had personally called me on the phone and told me I didn’t have anything to worry about. I told him, ‘I don’t know. I’ve just been hearing rumors that when you get in there, you’re going to fire me and start cleaning the place out.’ He said, ‘No, no, no. I have no intentions.’ But you know, I can tell things about people. Honesty and things. And after he got elected, I could smell it in the air that he was going to do something. I had heard information that was kind of leaking out. I just typed my resignation out last night and gave it to him this morning.”
NEA Report reached out to Mayor Sutton for comment several times this morning. He was in a meeting when we called at 9:02 AM and hasn’t returned our call as of this publication. He did send a text message that he was in a meeting with police officers. We will update this story with his comments when he makes contact.
Tackett said Sutton had no reaction, besides asking if the resignation was effective immediately. It was. At least for a period of time Wednesday morning, the Pocahontas department was without a chief of police.
The former chief doesn’t think it will stay that way for long. He said former Randolph County sheriff candidate David Edington was being tapped to be the chief of police. Another source also told NEA Report on Wednesday morning Edington would be taking the job. We have not confirmed this detail as of yet with the city but Tackett was certain when he spoke.
“Dave Eddington told me a while back that if he lost the election, for sheriff, he would just get out of law enforcement,” Tackett said. “I told him, ‘I heard you were gunning for my job. He said, ‘No. I don’t want your job.’ And here he is.”
The former police chief said he feels like he’s been lied to, “no doubt.”
“He was telling everybody he wasn’t going to make any changes and…I’ve been a popular police chief,” Tackett said. “I’ve came in there and got the department/personnel in good shape. Everybody got to feeling good about their jobs. When I first got there, it was a mess. It took about three years to get everything running right but we were.”
Tacket said he’s looking at alternatives but has not made any decisions, since this just happened this morning. He said he would like to stay in law enforcement.
“It was all politically motivated,” Tackett said. “I think there was an agenda before the election that carried on through the election to this. That’s my belief.”
Tackett believed his decision to enforce the law without showing favoritism created a grudge against him by a local political figure. An anonymous source told NEA Report he supported the decision to write a ticket to the wife of the local political figure who then pushed Sutton to remove him. Tackett seemed to confirm this as his belief when we asked.
“Well…I think he’s probably got some friends that I’ve ticked off,” Tackett said. “I’ve always been fair with people. It didn’t make any difference to me if they were a millionaire or a guy just going to a job at Peco. I just always took care of business and never showed favoritism to anybody. I guess I just hurt the wrong person’s feelings that he knows.”
Tackett has been the police chief in Pocahontas since 2011 when he was appointed by then-Mayor Frank Bigger. The city’s website says he began his career in law enforcement as a reserve officer for PPD following a career in management in the manufacturing industry. Tackett was promoted from reserve to part-time in early 2006 and became a full-time patrolman before the end of that same year.
When Tackett talked about the officers he served with, he spoke with emotion.
“I’ve worked with some fine officers and I’ve laid my neck on the line,” Tackett said. “I’ve been shot at. I’ve had to fight people out there harming my officers. There’s some good officers over there. They’re just like my children, basically. I’d die for anyone of them. Any of them.”