BRADLEY CO. TN. (WDEF)--Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth is recovering from an illness that's kept him out of the office for two weeks.
Nothing wrong with public officials taking sick leave, of course---but this incident triggered some little-known state rules and regulations.
Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth is recovering from an illness at a care facility in Collegedale.
He was hospitalized late last month suffering from atrial fibrillation, a condition involving an irregular heartbeat.
But, to make sure such agencies are left in qualified hands, the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission has rules.
BOB GAULT, SPOKESMAN, BRADLEY COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT. "There is a requirement, though, that in 15 days that the department or the sheriff notify the Post Commission of their status...in Sheriff Ruth's case, that would be a status of having an illness right now."
The letter went out this morning.
LOUIE ALFORD, CHAIRMAN, BRADLEY COUNTY COMMISSION "Basically, POST said that letter was there ..His incapacity has got nothing to do with anything other than he is incapacitated...they will not decertify him because of where he right now. "
County leaders point out that the sheriff is a constitutional office and the commissioner has no authority over that department.
They cleared that up with a statement from county attorney Chystal Freiberg.
But commissioners are aware that residents will want to be assured that things are well in the department.
LOUIE ALFORD "The Tennessee code answers that question for you. Its state law that the chief deputy or highest administrative officer ..Or one of those will take over."
Bob Gault says the state requirements have been met, Chief Deputy Wayne Bird will run the department in the interim, and that Sheriff Ruth is expected to make a full recovery.
BOB GAULT "We are hopeful that he is able to be released from the facility within the next few days..and be back at the office very soon."
The Bradley county sheriff's department spokesman the notification period for incapacitated sheriffs used to be 30 days.
He says the 15 day period is relatively new.