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Sheriff Arnold's Suspension Leaves Vacancy In Sheriff's Office

Posted at 4:30 PM, Nov 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-15 20:20:56-05

After a judge ruled to suspend embattled Rutherford County sheriff Robert Arnold from his position, removing his power over the office and his pay, county officials looked forward to what's next for the department.

"I don't think the chancellor thought that it was sufficient to say that he was effectively doing what he was charged to do with his responsibility," Rutherford County mayor Ernest Burgess said of the ruling. 

As of Monday evening, Chief Deputy Randy Garrett became the highest ranking position at the Sheriff's Office, but because there's a vacancy in Arnold's position and no general election until the Fall of 2018, county commissioners have the ability to appoint an interim sheriff. 

"This interim sheriff, that may be appointed by the county commission, could possibly serve until that time," Burgess explained. 

The interim sheriff would be elected to the position by the county commissioners after reviewing all who apply for the position. 

"Anybody has an opportunity to step forward and present their qualifications," Burgess said. 

An interim sheriff would be able to serve for two years leading up to the election and would be a good spot for re-election. That's all assuming that sheriff Arnold is found guilty on corruption charges or is officially removed from office through an ouster lawsuit, which has yet to been filed. 

Otherwise, if Arnold is found not guilty, he will be let out of jail and he will be able to return to his position at the sheriff's office. 

Regardless of the situation, county officials moved forward with the goal of serving the residents of Rutherford County. 

"We want to get back to just being a professional organization with good leadership and just doing the very best we can to perform properly," Burgess said. 

A county commissioners meeting was scheduled for Thursday night, at which time a more detailed timeline could be established regarding a possible ouster lawsuit as well as a review period for potential interim sheriff candidates. 

Burgess believed there could be an interim sheriff appointed by early 2017.