July 3, 2023

Police Chief: Off-duty Richland officer was one of 6 allegedly involved in Rankin County torture and shooting incident

Therese Apel

A police chief stepped forward today to explain his officer’s involvement in a case that has made national attention.

In a statement entitled, “Letter to the community,” Richland Police Chief Nick McLendon said today that one of his officers, while off-duty, was allegedly involved in a situation in Rankin County that led to the resignation of one deputy and the firings of four others last week.

Previously it has been reported that it was six Rankin County deputies who were accused of beating, torturing, tasing, and sexually abusing two men in January of this year. One of the men, Michael Jenkins, ended up being shot in the mouth. Former Rankin County deputies Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, and Christian Dedmon have been named by the victim’s attorney.

McLendon said former officer Joshua Hartfield was off duty when the incident occurred, and that he was allegedly riding along with the deputies. McClendon said as soon as word of the incident occurred and it was said that Hartfield was allegedly involved, he was placed on administrative leave and disciplined, and he resigned shortly after that.

Here is McLendon’s letter to the community:

“It is with profound sadness and heartfelt regret that we must confirm that former Officer Joshua Hartfield, while off duty, has been implicated in an incident occurring in Rankin County, Mississippi on January 24, 2023. We must express our deepest disappointment that a member of our department is claimed to be involved in a situation that goes against our department’s commitment to serve and protect the public.

Upon receiving the information regarding the allegations against Hartfield, immediate action was taken in line with our strict standards of responsibility and accountability. Hartfield was placed on administrative leave, subjected to disciplinary action, and subsequently tendered his resignation from the Richland Police Department.

If proven factual, this incident taints the respected badge that symbolizes the noble cause of all law enforcement, a symbol held dear by countless officers who strive tirelessly each day to uphold the highest levels of integrity, dedication, and selfless service to others. We are reminded once again that our mandate to serve and protect is not just a call to action, but a sacred trust that requires our unwavering commitment.

In my capacity as a leader, I carry a deep love for this profession and remain steadfastly dedicated to promoting constitutional, proactive, accountable policing.

This mission statement has always been at the heart of our organization.

While this incident has been a stern reminder of the grave responsibility we bear, it is essential to recognize that the actions of a single individual, in his or her personal capacity, do not define the collective character of our law enforcement officers. Every day, they rise to the daunting challenge of combating darkness and protecting our community with unparalleled courage and unwavering integrity.

Though it’s a stark reality that some may falter and succumb to the shadows, the overwhelming majority of our officers stand strong, while bravely confronting the darkness in this world. They do this not because it’s their job, but because it’s their calling, and they do it with an ironclad resolve and the utmost integrity.

As we navigate through this difficult time, we reaffirm our commitment to holding ourselves accountable. Just as we bring criminals to justice, so too must we hold ourselves to the same standards and answer for our actions.

In the face of this challenging ordeal, our resolve remains unshaken. We continue to march forward, guided by our duty, and driven by our collective commitment to serve, protect, and uphold justice.

Our department will continue to fully cooperate with all agencies involved in the ongoing investigation.

Nick McLendon
Chief of Police
Richland Police Department”

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