The local media has been notified that the swearing in ceremony for embattled Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt has been changed to a private, undisclosed location and not even the press is invited. They have also been told that neither DeWitt nor anyone in his command staff or PIO office will make any statements or answer any questions about the Sunday morning arrest of Sheriff DeWitt on charges of DUI and Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Personal Injury. BCSO seems to have resorted to it’s usual defense - do nothing, say nothing, and hope it all goes away. We have a feeling once ALL of the available reports and videos are received by the press, citizens will be further outraged at what has been hidden from them.
So, the man who the residents of Berkeley County elected to be their sheriff has opted for a private swearing in and has made the press persona non grata at the function. The elected sheriff has chosen not to be accountable to the electors of his county. Standard operating procedure is being followed.
Article VI, Sections 4 and 5 of the South Carolina Constitution detail the requirements for the oath of office, as does Article II Section 26.
Section 23-11-20 of the South Carolina Code of Law deals specifically with the oath requirements for an elected sheriff.
Based on what we read, DeWitt can hide from electors and the media and take his oath in private if he so chooses. We don’t find a prohibition against it. The only person the law requires to be present is the Clerk of Court, in this case Mary Brown. He doesn’t actually have to appear in public until the next term of circuit court where he must produce his commission to be read in open court. The last term of circuit court in Berkeley County was held the week of 17 November. The next will probably be held in early to mid January. So, DeWitt gets to hide from Berkeley County voters until then.
As we have explained before, Article VI Section 8 of the South Carolina Constitution deals with the suspension and prosecution of elected officials accused of a crime. The only remedy available to voters comes when an indictment is handed down by a grand jury. Only then can a governor take action. We keep telling you elections have consequences.
There are many who hope this incident will be the final straw and the tide will turn opening up a new era of advancement and improvement in the administration of the BCSO. We are not convinced that will happen.
A group of citizens is organizing civil demonstration to express their dissatisfaction. You can find the details HERE.
We doubt you will hear much more about this incident from the local “news” organizations due to the threats issued by Chief Deputy Ollic to WCBD News a couple of weeks ago. Anyone out there old enough to remember the days when the press was the appointed watchdog and investigators of public corruption and malfeasance? What did they do in light of the threat? They slunk away like cur dogs. Note how they were all following the “illegal arrest” party line until we exposed the fallacy behind that argument.
There is one positive thing to come out of this incident, though. Really? Yep. Thanks to the precedent set by Sheriff H. Wayne DeWitt any Berkeley County deputy arrested in the future can’t be fired immediately without threat of a lawsuit. Do a web search for fired BCSO deputies. You will find some charged with DUI, some with criminal domestic violence, some with other minor offenses, all of whom were fired before they had their day in court. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for DeWitt and his apologists, though.
What is it the DeWitt supporters are telling you to do? Read the Bible, don’t judge him, don’t give him hell or let one “mistake” cost him his position. Isn’t it strange that same thought process wasn’t expounded when BCSO deputies were fired in the past? Apparently, what is good for the troops is not good for the commander.
“Do as I say, not as I do.” Now that’s leadership for you.