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“Those men did this job right” Knox County Sheriff’s Office loses three members to COVID-19

Sheriff Tom Spangler says he has memories with all three of them.
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:52 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knox Country Sheriff’s Office reported three employees passed away due to COVID-19. Sheriff Tom Spangler says he has memories with all three of them.

“There’s nothing routine about this job. The routine may not make it home and I’m sorry I don’t mean to be emotional this way but when you’re dealing with these things...,” said Spangler.

Toby Keiser served the department for 25 years and was rehired back in October. He was the first mounted patrolman in Knox County- you might have seen him on his horse.

Rex Armstrong retired a few months ago, but the department says he was a great mentor with a great sense of humor.

Ken Medaris retired back in the 1990′s.

“It’s like your regular family, but the men and women understand some of the stressors that you’re going through. When you’re dealing with those things they understand. You know, when you lose one like this, it is almost like losing someone... in the line of duty and that’s tough. I had worked side-by-side with them, it’s tough,” said Spangler.

Spangler says the department will feel their loss for years to come.

“Those men did this job right,” said Spangler.

Spangler says their employees now have the option to receive a COVID-19 vaccine--which is promising. He’s left the decision up to the employees, just like his feeling about enforcement of mask-wearing in the county.

“The so-called mandate is not a mandate, it’s a request if you will. I think those people who feel comfortable doing that then, by all means, do that. I don’t think anyone should be condemned for wearing it or condemned for not wearing it when there is a medical reason for that,” said Spangler.

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