Buckner, 44, a 21-year veteran of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, resigned Monday following the arrest of his wife, Gail, his wife’s mother and a young man. Officials said the three took Buckner’s marked patrol car while he was asleep.
Sheriff Grady Judd said it’s unclear whether Buckner did anything wrong.
‘You shouldn’t have to hide your keys from your wife,’ he said.
Judd said Buckner was not being blamed for his wife’s transgressions.
‘I was shocked that he resigned,’ Judd said. ‘But it’s just fine with me.’
On Sunday about 11:30 a.m. a man driving on Lakeland Highlands Road near County Road 540A called 911 and reported that a sheriff’s patrol car was being driven erratically, and that two blond women were in the front seat and a man was in the backseat, a sheriff’s report said.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Gordon Scherer, who was on a traffic stop on Crews Lake Road, watched the patrol car come toward him and make a U-turn. Scherer followed the squad car
to Deputy Buckner’s home in South Lakeland.
It was unclear whether mother or daughter drove the car, officials said.
Gail Buckner, 38, and Sharon Cooper, 54, were booked into the Polk County Jail on charges of auto theft, theft of a firearm and impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Gail Buckner was also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Alexander James Quintasket, 19, who officials said was riding in the back seat, was charged with grand theft, impersonating a law enforcement officer, grand theft of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was also charged with resisting an officer without violence for giving a false name.
Sheriff Judd said there was ‘at least’ a 12-gauge shotgun in the car when it was taken.
The three remained at the Polk County Jail on Monday night.
Judd said he was ‘infuriated and embarrassed by the conduct of Buckner’s family.”
But he added, ‘I really don’t think that Chip had any idea his wife was driving his patrol car.’
Judd said an internal investigation into whether Buckner violated sheriff’s policy will continue. Buckner would have been suspended during the investigation.
Gail Buckner has a criminal record that dates to before her marriage to Chip Buckner.
Judd said sheriff’s policy is for deputies not to cavort with convicted felons. ‘But the lawyers say we can’t stop them from marrying one,’ he said.
The Sheriff’s Office was unaware of the connection until Sunday, Judd said.
‘We can’t do a background check on everyone who dates a deputy.’