Six former Mississippi police officers have pleaded guilty to state charges for torturing two Black men in January. The officers, all of whom are White, already pled guilty in a related federal civil rights case.
Former Rankin County deputies — Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, and Daniel Opdyke — as well as ex-Richland Police officer Joshua Hartfiel, were charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice. Dedmon was also charged with home invasion and Elward with home invasion and aggravated assault.
The vile and racist abuse by these officers is indicative of the widespread issues with policing in Mississippi and the US at large. The Rankin County Sheriff must resign, as there is no way for him to restore legitimacy to a police department that has been plagued with racism and excessive force. Whether or not the sheriff committed abuse himself doesn’t take away from the horrific actions that took place under his leadership.
While the abuse by the six police officers was absolutely horrific, the actions of rogue officers shouldn't delegitimize an entire county’s police force or be seen as an indictment against law enforcement in general. The Rankin County Sheriff understands what actions must be taken to address the problems. The sheriff took swift action to investigate the abusive officers and make sure they were prosecuted at the state and federal levels. His leadership proves he should not resign and represents proper administration of law and order.