Corinth Police Chief Ralph Dance on Wednesday afternoon called a news reporter the “most hated” man in Alcorn County.
Dance directed the comments toward Corinth Today News Editor Josh Mitchell at about 2 p.m. Dance also told Mitchell to “shut up” and threatened to arrest him.
The confrontation occurred in the 1200 block of Wick Street in front of several people who laughed when Dance told Mitchell to “shut up.”
Mitchell was at the Wick Street location as a reporter because a SWAT team had assembled at the front door of a house nearby. Mitchell was in the same area as other civilians and did not cross any police barricades.
When Mitchell raised his camera to take a picture of the SWAT team assembled at the door, Assistant Police Chief Josh Fortenberry ordered Mitchell to not take pictures.
Mitchell was standing on a public street when he raised the camera. Fortenberry said he did not want pictures of the SWAT team taken for safety reasons.
Mitchell noted that the faces of the SWAT team members were not visible. Mitchell respects the police department’s policy, and, in fact, had posted other SWAT team pictures about an hour before in another location and purposely made sure the faces were not visible out of respect for the police department policy and the safety of the officers.
Mitchell also told Fortenberry that an attorney from the press association would be contacted in regard to a reporter being ordered to not take pictures on a public street. Other people, in addition to the reporter, also had cellphone cameras.
Mitchell told Fortenberry and Dance that he was doing his job, and that is when Dance told Mitchell to “shut up” and then made the comment that Mitchell is the “most hated” man in Alcorn County. Dance said Mitchell was also making the police department’s job difficult.
Dance ordered Mitchell to walk several feet away and said Mitchell could take pictures from that location. Dance said if Mitchell came any closer that he would be arrested.