The decision of who will replace Undersheriff Wayne R. Rupert following his death over the weekend is 83-year-old Sheriff William L. Polhemus' to make.
The sheriff's office is one of three constitutional offices in the state, which gives Polhemus the power to appoint Rupert's successor, county Administrator Carl W. Block said this afternoon.
"It's his sole choice," Block said.
Rupert died at his vacation home in Lancaster County, Pa., Saturday, shortly after he fell from the roof of his trailer, Block said.
"He was out there with his wife, closing it up for the season," he said. "He was doing the last gutter check, she was in the car. They were getting ready to go. The next thing she knew, she hears "Call 911."
An autopsy was scheduled to be performed today in Pennsylvania, Block said.
"We don't know whether it was a medical event or he died from the fall," he said.
The Rupert family has made tentative arrangements for services to be held Thursday and Friday at the Ryan Funeral Home on St. Catherine's Boulevard in Berkeley Township, Block said.
There is no deadline to appoint a successor to Rupert, he said.
In the meantime, Sheriff's Department Chief Michael Osborne will be assuming some of Rupert's duties. Capt. Valerie Hill, who worked in tandem with Rupert on Ocean County Emergency Management Office duties, will continue with those responsibilities, Block said.
"It's always good to have your management team intact," he said.
Traditionally, the "at will" position of undersheriff has gone to a person with a law enforcement background, Block said.