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Police chief in Arkansas arrested and charged with theft, abusing his power

Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:36:35 PM CST   Updated On: Oct 29 2013 06:18:12 AM CDT

Citizens in town watched as deputies escorted their police chief from the city hall


This small town along Bull Shoals Lake is looking for answers after its police chief was arrested.

On Monday, citizens in town watched as authorities escorted their police chief (in handcuffs) from the city hall.  Kenny Barnes was taken to the Boone County Jail where he was charged with breaking some of the very laws he’s supposed to uphold.

“Word does travel fast. And when you see several police cars up here at the city hall …yes- people started convening,” stated Mayor Jimmie Lou Nuessner.

“It’s just a tough thing when you have such a small tight-knit community like we have it is always you always want to think the best about people,” stated Mike Moore, Boone County Sheriff.

The sheriff says Barnes went to a house and, acting under his law enforcement authority, took several guns.  Prosecutors say the chief then sold those many of those weapons and pocketed the money.  He’s been charged with several felonies, including theft of property, abuse of public trust, and abuse of his office.

“I was completely caught off guard today,” stated Mayor Nuessner.  “I hired him six years ago as my chief and hadn’t had any problems, so this is quite a surprise for me tonight too.”

The mayor said Chief Barnes has been suspended without pay during the investigation.  Earlier in the day she appointed and swore in another Lead Hill police to serve as acting police chief.

People gathered at a special meeting Monday night.  The forum was held inside the very city hall Chief Barnes hauled out of hours earlier.

“And at a special meeting you can only thing and that is the one thing: the police department,” stated the mayor.

But apparently, some didn’t get that memo. 

One by one, residents aired complaints about the city and police department.  Residents said they felt the city’s finances were being mismanaged.  At one point a councilman and several others called for the resignation of the mayor.  She declined the offer to step down.

“The people feel they have been abused by the Lead Hill City,” stated Councilman Gar VanMeter.

It was a day with twists and turns like the road here. It’s likely far from over.

“We are going to get our town in good standing and take care of business,” stated VanMeter.

VanMeter stated he contacted the state auditor’s office and an investigation into the city’s finances would be taking place in the near future.