Deputy Fired After Busting Underage Drinking Party Speaks Out

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT)- It was 1:01 a.m. on the morning of April 13th when the call went out from the Randolph County E-911 center.

"Dispatch advised me that they had received a call that a woman had gone to pick her 16-year-old son up, and she found him at this party where there was underage drinking and possibly drugs, and she wanted it checked out," said former deputy, Todd Grooms.

Minutes later he and two other officers drove up to Snodgrass road to the Cunningham residence where the underage drinking party was underway in a barn in the back yard.

"I looked in through the doorway and could see a lot of the same kids that were just dancing at the prom were in there now drinking alcohol and having a good time," said Grooms.

In fact in pictures taken by officers you can see coolers full of beer, bottles lining the table tops, and dozens of cups filled with alcohol.

Grooms says at this point he did what any officer would do in the situation, and began issuing citations for minors in possession of alcohol.

He says, even after a call to the sheriff, he thought he was doing the right thing.

"He said to continue writing the tickets and we'd deal with everything in court," said Grooms.

But then grooms ran into some trouble, in the way of parents.

"Several of the parents were exclaiming, they are just kids having a good time. I should be out busting meth labs and stuff like that. I was shocked. I couldn't believe they were mad at me because they thought it was okay for their kids to drink," said Grooms.

One parent was even arrested after telling kids to not cooperate with officers.

Now nearly a month later the citations have all been dismissed and grooms has been let go from the Randolph County Sheriff's Department.

"I feel betrayed by my Sheriff. I had a lot of respect for that man. I thought he would stand up for what is right," said Grooms.

Now Grooms says he hates to think that a night of partying that could have ended deadly, has now ended with such loose consequences for those involved.

"It's politics. I despise that. I don't think it's about votes. It's about enforcing the laws of the state of Arkansas," said Grooms.

And now a few words from his own daughter truly put this whole ordeal in perspective.

"She said, dad you are the kind of person that would die to save somebody else's life and you did that prom night and all it cost you was your job," quoted Grooms.

This is Deputy Grooms second time to get fired.

He was previously fired from the Pocahontas Police Department, but the Mayor said he left on friendly circumstances.

Meanhwhile, we talked to Sheriff Gary Tribble today who had no comment on the matter.

We also spoke with Sandra Bryant, the mother and a Pocahontas High School Employee, arrested the night of the party.

After agreeing to talk to Region Eight News, she later decided to remain silent.

The Randolph County Judge has now granted Grooms a hearing before the Randolph County Greivance Committee.

It is Grooms hopes that the court will find his termination unjustified and reinstate him to his position.