DeWitt’s overdue departure

Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt is seen in handcuffs in a screenshot from a State Highway Patrol dashboard camera video. (Provided)

Wayne DeWitt took the necessary, if overdue, step of resigning his position as Berkeley County sheriff on Wednesday. Arrested on Dec. 28 on charges of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident, Mr. DeWitt refused to take a Breathalyzer test and acknowledged culpability in comments following the incident. Add the video record of his arrest and events leading up to it, and his departure was virtually a foregone conclusion.

Nevertheless, Mr. DeWitt held onto his job for more than a month and was sworn in for another four-year term in January. His resignation sets the stage for a special election to fill the position.

Mr. DeWitt said in a statement that his resignation will help “restore the public trust” in the office he held for 20 years. It also means that the ex-sheriff can have his day in court without the intense level of publicity that would otherwise have accompanied it.

It marks an unfortunate end to Mr. DeWitt’s 40-year career in law enforcement. But it doesn’t put an end to the issues raised by his arrest.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating whether Hanahan police acted properly after stopping the Berkeley sheriff.Based on police reports and the video record, Mr. DeWitt could have faced additional charges.

According to Hanahan police, he was clocked driving his county-owned truck at more than 100 mph, was swerving over the center line and ran a red light. He was charged, however, only with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, and the arrest was made by a state Highway Patrol trooper, who later took him to jail.

Protests were held at the Hanahan Police Department in January over its handling of the incident.

“If that had been anyone but [Mr. DeWitt], there would have been multiple charges, and Hanahan needs to own up to their responsibility,” said Berkeley resident Deborah Bagley. She blamed the “good ol’ boy system.”

Sheriff DeWitt’s resignation is one step toward restoring trust in law enforcement in Berkeley County.

A resolution of the SLED probe will provide another — the sooner the better.