“I would like to commend our reserve deputies and volunteers for their unselfish effort in assisting our regular deputies in keeping our community safe. They have not only contributed their valuable time away from their families, they have spent many long hours in preparation and training to meet the qualifications required by the state of Tennessee,” said Ruth.
The new sheriff explained the laws concerning special deputy status.
“Under Tennessee law, TCA 8-8-212, the sheriff may appoint on urgent occasions or particular purposes special deputies as he deems proper. After Jan. 1, 1989, TCA 38-8-106 states: any person employed or used as a special deputy shall have the same qualifications as a full-time deputy sheriff. Special deputies who were employed prior to Jan. 1, 1989 with continuous service are exempt from pre-employment requirements as long as they remain in active service with the sheriff’s office that originally hired them.”
“Several decades ago sheriffs in Tennessee and other states issued ‘special deputy’ badges to people of the county when a temporary posse was needed to assist the county sheriff in major disasters or serious threats to the safety of the community. They used the old common law of ‘Posse Comitatus’ in these extreme circumstances to have enough manpower on hand to handle the emergency. Many sheriffs used this power to issue ‘special deputy’ badges so people could lawfully carry firearms. This evolved into a kind of patronage where many people carried firearms that didn’t have the knowledge or experience to handle them,” said Ruth.
The state of Tennessee, along with about 35 other states, has passed laws allowing gun permits to citizens.
Ruth has been very proactive in the training of citizens for gun permits. He has personally trained more than 5,000 Bradley County residents in the safe use of firearms.
The sheriff has stressed the need for basic gun safety for everyone, including special deputies.
He said the need for residents to stay safe and the great liability on the county requires the BCSO to provide training and guidelines to carry firearms as a special deputy.
“Many of our residents who have professional and special skills are a definite asset as reserve deputy. We have excellent professional, educational, and industrial leaders who may contribute greatly in a role as consultant or advisor in many situations,” Ruth said.
The sheriff cited consultants for negotiations, building and industrial engineers, pharmacists, and other professionals whose advice is very useful from time to time.
Ruth intends to follow the law and issue special deputy cards only to those needed for emergencies and other special situations. These special deputies will be required to meet minimum standards and attend 40 hours of training for each year they serve.
Recently, former Sheriff Tim Gobble instituted the Church Deputy program citing recent violent acts in churches in several towns in the U.S. as a reason for the program — protecting worshippers.
The application form for reserve deputy is available from the sheriff’s website, www.bradleysheriff.com, or at the customer service lobby of the sheriff’s administrative offices.