Highland Chief of Police Fred Waser won't be leaving his job after all, but he's got new orders from the city council -- work eight hours a day and go home.
Waser tendered his resignation two weeks ago but didn't specify a date for his departure. The council tabled the discussion of his resignation until April 23. Waser said his main complaint was the extensive hours he has been required to work; he said he has been working 60-80 hours per week and can't physically or mentally continue to do so. Waser was originally hired on an hourly basis but the council didn't want to pay him overtime so they made him a salaried employee.
"This is the best man for the job and I hate for us to lose him because we're having some bumpy times," Highland Mayor David Shackelford told the council. Shackelford encouraged the council to work with Waser and persuade him to stay.
Waser told the council he felt a strong obligation to the residents of the city to provide around-the-clock police enforcement but didn't have the manpower to do so without putting in extensive hours himself. He said part-time officer Bea Sharp couldn't work more than 20 hours per week because of the restrictions on the COPS grant the city receives for her services. She has been working some hours at no charge to the city to assist Waser, he said.
Members of the council agreed the city could not afford to hire another officer at this time. They voted unanimously to amend Waser's hours to no more than 40 hours per week and ask the Sharp County Sheriff's Department to take any calls that come in when there is no officer on duty. Shackelford agreed to contact the Arkansas State Police and ask why state troopers can't assist the city by patrolling and working accidents on Highway 62/412. Waser said he had been told since the city incorporated the state did not have an obligation to work the highway and would do so only at their discretion, even though it is a state highway.
The council agreed to make the necessary repairs to Sharp's police vehicle, which resulted from an accident April 20. The report cited road conditions as the cause of the accident. It is estimated it will cost approximately $1,100 to repair the vehicle. The insurance company will be contacted and the city will incur any costs not paid by insurance.
In other business the council amended the motion passed at the last council meeting to give Waser a $1,000 raise and changed it to $740. Councilman Jerrie Johnson read a memo issued by city clerk Carol Frolow stating she had miscalculated the raise as required by the COPS grant.