In a recent article published by the Northwest Florida Daily News titled “Questions arise about officers whereabouts” several statements were made that insinuated a Lieutenant with DeFuniak Springs Police Department had disregarded his duties as an Officer. The omission of several facts related to the incident, coupled by the questionable source of the initial information used in the article is a cause for concern.
There was never a question about Lt. Pennington’s whereabouts. Lt. Pennington was on his way home at approximately 7 p.m. and outside of the city limits when he observed a minor single vehicle traffic crash that had occurred on the side of the roadway. According to Lt. Pennington, he observed a vehicle that appeared to strike a tree. There were other vehicles that had stopped to assist. As Lt. Pennington drove by, he notified DeFuniak Springs Police Communications via radio to relay what was observed to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office then dispatched their units and fire/rescue per their protocol. At the time Lt. Pennington observed the minor crash outside of his jurisdiction, there was no indication that intervention was necessary or that the only occupant would leave the scene. What would ultimately be another crash inside the city limits that led to the arrest of the suspect, occurred after Lt. Pennington had arrived at his residence and became off-duty.
Lt. Pennington is a dedicated 36 year veteran of law enforcement who has dedicated his life to public service and assisting others. “This agency is committed to assisting those in need whether a duty of care is required or not. My Officers are passionate about serving this community as demonstrated every day. The facts of this incident were distorted by sources in efforts to discredit the members of this agency,” said Chief Mark Weeks.