DeWitt's 'full responsibility'

A screen capture from the dashcam video shows Wayne DeWitt being arrested. (Provided)

Who would have imagined that Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt might actually have caught a break when he was arrested "only" for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident? Based on incident reports and supporting police videos, Mr. DeWitt might well have faced additional charges from Hanahan police, who clocked his truck going more than 100 mph and reported him running a red light and driving all over the road.

Though the sheriff wasn't charged by the Hanahan department - he was arrested by the S.C. Highway Patrol - the new information puts a few more bricks on Mr. DeWitt's already considerable load. It will be even harder for Berkeley residents to lend a receptive ear to Mr. DeWitt's stated pledge to win back their trust.

One mitigating element in the accumulated evidence was the video recording of Mr. DeWitt taking responsibility for his actions while on his way to jail.

"Be kind of odd going into my own jail," he said, adding, "but my fault."

That said, Mr. DeWitt declined to take a Breathalyzer test, causing him immediately to lose his license for six months.

But he did take the oath of office for another term on Sunday, though privately.

And on Monday, he declared his intention of "restoring the public trust" in the wake of his arrest.

"I accept full responsibility for my conduct," he said.

No question, Mr. DeWitt has built up good will during five terms as Berkeley County sheriff. His November re-election for a sixth term confirmed that.

And Sheriff DeWitt seems determined to ride out the storm.

But the cumulative effect of the Dec. 28 incident, including the latest startling information, is just too much for the county's top law enforcement official to overcome or get around.

He should recognize that his goal of "restoring the public trust" goes beyond his own situation. It relates to the credibility of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department over its full range of duties.

Mr. DeWitt already has turned over his responsibilities to his second in command, pending a Feb. 11 trial.

In view of his increasingly complicated - and thoroughly incriminating - situation, Mr. DeWitt should make it easier on everyone else in the sheriff's department by being tough on himself.

If he really is serious about accepting full responsibility, he should resign.