Does Byrd give law enforcement a black eye?

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - As Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd steps down in the wake of his federal felony plea, some may have questions about the potential damage that may been done to the image of law enforcement on the coast. No one would know that better than police chiefs.

Kenny Johnson is the Pascagoula police chief. Despite the problems facing Byrd, his department is still functioning as if nothing happened.

"They're still doing a lot of work with the sheriff's department, so they've been very successful in working together and not letting what's going on at the top end affect their duties," Johnson said.

He also feels that some actual good may come out of the controversial case involving the sheriff.

"Cops aren't immune. Even the chief law enforcement of the county is held accountable for his actions. And certainly at the local level with the cities, we're held to a high standard."

That's a feeling shared by the Biloxi Police Chief John Miller.

"Well, I hope public confidence isn't shattered any kind of way. I mean, I don't know the details about Mike and what took place, but it appears to me the system is working the way it's supposed to and I would think that the public would realize that," Miller said.

I made several stops in Jackson County, talking with people about the Mike Byrd case and its possible impact on law enforcement, trying to get a gauge of how they feel about it. Most were not overly concerned.

One of those is Dan Weinhofer, enjoying a morning cup of coffee, and catching up on some work.

"Well, I don't think there's anything against the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch," Weinhofer said.  "If I'm working for Sheriff Byrd and he tells me to do something and I'm relying on my income from the sheriff's department, I'm going to do what he says."

Chris Hatt, picking up a few groceries on a brisk day, agrees.

"Well, I don't think that he speaks for everybody. I think he was just one person in a position of power, but as far as my personal opinion on law enforcement as a whole, I just don't think it speaks for everybody. It was his case, it was him and that's that."

Byrd also faces several serious felony charges on the state level.  That trial is set for March 10, 2014.

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