Bradley county constable Ira Cox died early today at a Chattanooga hospital.
He was one of the original members of the county's Civil Defense organization, later to be known as the Fire and Rescue team.
Cox was at the office of state representative Eric Watson Wednesday afternoon where he suffered a stroke a short time after an interview with WDEF News 12's Bill Mitchell.
For more than 50 years, Ira Cox served Bradley county as a full-time fireman with the Cleveland Fire Department, a reserve officer for the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, acting chief of rescue, and lieutenant for the Bradley County Rescue Service.
His sudden death has shocked the law enforcement community and his friend, State Representative Eric Watson.
REP. ERIC WATSON, BRADLEY COUNTY "Ira Cox was a true family man, community man, and a law man. When it comes to law enforcement you won't find a better law enforcement officer and honest man than Ira Cox."
Constable Cox was rightly proud of his long service....but he was accused in a recent media report of not having 50 hours training during the current year. He was stung by the criticism and wanted to tell his story. That's why news 12 was there.
IRA COX, BRADLEY CO. CONSTABLE "I haven't had any this year, because we haven't started yet. But last year I did 54 hours."
The question of training led Bradley county leaders to post that information for anyone who wants to see it.
Some saw the story by another news source as a personal attack.
CHARLOTTE JONES, COUNTY COMISSIONER "It really kind of upset everybody in the county, especially the commission..and we just though it was an all-out manhunt, witch-hunt, whatever you want to call it on our constables."
Constables are elected, but un-paid. Its up to them to get the training.
Rep. Watson is a certified instructor who has offered to do it free of charge.
REP. ERIC WATSON, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE "I have volunteered my services to the constables association, and for any constable that wants the training."
Constable Cox was stricken a few minutes after we completed those interviews.
He was rushed to Erlanger and died early Thursday.
He was 74.
Rep. Watson says he hopes the changes made by Bradley county to the constable training program will be a lasting memorial to the life and service of his friend, Ira Cox. The Funeral is Saturday at 2 at the old First Bapist Church in downtown Cleveland.