Who's in charge? Bradley Co. sheriff unable to work - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Who's in charge? Bradley Co. sheriff unable to work

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BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

The sheriff of Bradley County is still recovering from a stroke he had more than two weeks ago and that has many wondering, who's running the sheriff's office?

Turns out Friday was the last day the department had to notify the state on his condition and who's filling his shoes. They did make the deadline.

Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth has been with the department more than 30 years. He's three years into his first term as sheriff, but now he's unable to do any of it. While training in Nashville the last weekend of May, he suffered a mini stroke. He's recovering, but there are several laws and regulations when it comes to dealing with this unexpected situation.

Sheriff Ruth is recovering at the Life Care Center of Collegedale. His stroke left him unable to do much of anything, including speak, but his office says he's getting better little by little and is now talking some, eating and even writing his weekly column in the local paper.

"It's a hope he'll be able to be released. He's making good progress, be released in a few days and be back on the job very soon," Bradley County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Bob Gault said.

Still, Friday marks day 15 he's been out. The deadline for notifying the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, Commission, that he's incapacitated.

"We have this morning faxed a notice to the POST Commission in Nashville of the sheriff's current status," Gault said.

State law says if the sheriff is incapacitated, the highest ranking member of the office, in this case Chief Deputy Wayne Bird, steps into his role. That's either until he returns or the county commission appoints someone. County commissioners told Channel 3 they have not discussed appointing someone else.

"Chief Bird has always been the number two person in the department," Gault said.

As for whether Sheriff Ruth risks losing his certification for being out so long: "That is not true. He does not lose his certification, it's just a requirement that we notify the post commission of his present status," Gault said.

The POST Commission confirms they received the notification and that Sheriff Ruth's certification is not affected.

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