The third allegation centered on conduct unbecoming an officer and dealt with a complaint that had been filed against Keyonna
Penister by a female. In her testimony, Penister said that the woman had been harassing her and accused her of sleeping with the woman's former husband, who is also a police officer.
A Pine Bluff police officer who appealed her suspension last week won a minor victory, but a civilian review panel upheld the most serious infractions.
Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield had suspended Keyonna Penister for 40 days for three separate violations of department policy, including illegally detaining a shoplifting suspect, which could have resulted in a lawsuit against the city.
The review panel — made up of Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Montgomery, IT Director Casey Cooper and City Zoning Inspector Lakeisha Hill — heard just over an hour of testimony before throwing out one of the three allegations and reducing a 10-day suspension to seven days for the second.Whitfield said that officers are held to a higher standard, and Penister got involved in a situation she should not have gotten involved in, describing some of Penister’s testimony as 'ghetto.'
The allegation involving the shoplifting, for which Penister had been suspended for 30 days, was upheld. According to testimony from Penister at the review hearing, she was dispatched to a call of a shoplifter at a dollar store and received information that the suspect had left the store.
Penister said she made contact with the suspect by stopping her car, then putting her in the back seat of her patrol unit without handcuffing her. During the incident, the alleged shoplifter contacted another officer and told her where she had put the merchandise down, and that officer went to the store and found it.
“I went back and told her she was not under arrest, and she started screaming at me,” Penister said. “It was nothing personal. I was trying to do my job.”
Responding to Penister, Whitfield said that she had been on the job five or six years and had received a department manual that sets out the procedures for making arrests for misdemeanor offenses such as shoplifting. Before an arrest can be made, the store accusing the person of a crime must first provide an affidavit detailing the incident.
“We don’t operate on intentions,” Whitfield said. “We operate under the law. She had no affidavit, and she put the city in a potential lawsuit.”
Whitfield said that Penister refused a request from the alleged shoplifter to drive back to the store.
“When she detained her in the car, she was under arrest because she couldn’t leave,” Whitfield said.
He said that Penister “overstepped her boundaries. I gave her 30 days (off) to try and save her job. This was a rookie mistake. I wanted to make sure she learned from this because she put the city of Pine Bluff in a situation it didn’t deserve.”
The panel threw out a second allegation that Penister failed to report for duty, for which she had been given three days off.
In her testimony, she said she had been at the hospital with an officer who was being treated after being shot. She then contacted her sergeant and asked to be an early unit, meaning starting her patrol shift earlier than other units. Penister said the sergeant told her it would be up to the shift lieutenant, who later told her that she could not be an early unit.
Whitfield said Penister put her gear in a police car and left, then failed to show up for a second briefing that takes place before each shift goes on the street.
“She failed to listen to the lieutenant,” the chief said. “She didn’t attend the second muster.”
The third allegation centered on conduct unbecoming an officer and dealt with a complaint that had been filed against Penister by a female. In her testimony, Penister said that the woman had been harassing her and accused her of sleeping with the woman’s former husband, who is also a police officer.
“He’s a friend, but I never slept with him,” Penister said, adding that the woman had sent her multiple text messages and posted items on social media about her, including sending Penister sex videos.
Penister said she had blocked the woman on four Facebook accounts and had filed a harassment charge against the woman, for which she received a no-contact order.
Whitfield said that officers are held to a higher standard, and Penister got involved in a situation she should not have gotten involved in, describing some of Penister’s testimony as “ghetto.”