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Rutherford Co. Leaders React To Arnold's Jailing

Posted: 5:17 PM, Sep 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-28 20:09:06-04

Robert Arnold has not been charged with a crime and denied assaulting his wife, but the Rutherford County sheriff has been placed behind bars.

Now in a new development we've learned the sheriff has been strongly considering resigning from office if it meant he'd get out of jail now.

A federal judge sent Arnold to a detention facility in Kentucky for violating his pre-release on corruption charges.

That meant he's looking at five months behind bars before his trial next February.

"I don't believe it's possible for the sheriff to execute his duties of office," said District attorney Jennings Jones who made it clear being sheriff won't work from jail.

"We cannot have the county without a sheriff -- a chief law enforcement officer for an extended period of time," said General Jones.

It's already creating havoc short-term.

Consider this text from a staffer shortly after the sheriff was taken into custody: "Mood is shock and awe."

Everyone kept saying who's in charge? Can he still run this place from jail? They have been uncertain.

County Mayor Ernest Burgess said it's time to "... regain the confidence and respect of our citizens."

For now Burgess said the sheriff's Chief Deputy Randy Garrett will run the day-to-day operations of the jail.

Burgess said it's possible that county commissioners could again consider filing an ouster suit to remove Arnold, but that could take weeks, even months.

He has much preferred a different option. It's possible Arnold could be immediately released from federal custody if he were to resign as sheriff.

"That would be a more direct and simple solution for all of us and not take months for a final resolution," said Burgess.

Several sources told Newschannel 5 Arnold already has a resignation letter written and ready to go.

The question has been: After saying for months he never would resign, will he now really do it?

The mayor and district attorney have planned to meet with county commissioners soon to discuss the possibility of filing an ouster lawsuit to remove Arnold as sheriff.