Members of Highland City Council were called to a special meeting July 29 to discuss a personnel issue.
The meeting immediately went into executive session to discuss problems the city is having within the police department as well as Police Chief Beatrice Sharp's "lack of concern for her department and city."
Following the 50 minute executive session, Alderman Jack Kimbrell made a motion to authorize Highland Mayor Jerome Norwood to handle the issues that were discussed and Alderman Jack Black seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous to allow Norwood to proceed with action on the matter.
July 30, Norwood provided a press release further explaining the city council's executive session.
He said that the council determined that Sharp must vacate her position and that he was proceeding with the action by either termination or the request for a letter of resignation from Sharp. Norwood said the decision would be up to her.
He further stated that she was a liability to the city of Highland and there are other matters of a legal nature that were taken into consideration in this decision, in which he had full support of the city council. Norwood said these issues were prefaced prior to any medical condition for which Sharp is currently on leave. He also stated that Sharp's medical condition was not the basis for the decision.
Upon contacting Sharp for comments, she said she was unaware of any kind of action being taken against her and said, "I have been on medical leave since July 24."
As the result of findings on an MRI, Sharp said she had developed growths on her arm socket which caused her shoulder to separate, a painful condition that requires an upcoming surgery.
After being notified of her pending termination July 30 by a hand delivered letter via her husband, Highland Code Enforcement Officer Ralph Sharp to her home, Beatrice Sharp responded in a letter to the mayor and city council.
She said that she was given notice to attend a meeting to discuss problems within the police department. She claimed she was unaware of any departmental problems and said, "No one made me aware of these problems."
Sharp said July 16, in written correspondence, she requested a shift change due to an injury in her shoulder and was denied her request by Norwood via a memo laid on her desk.
She said after Norwood refused the offer she was left with no choice but to give a medical leave notice rather than work in less than perfect health in a job as hazardous as being Police Chief.
Sharp said she was surprised the mayor would ask her to resign under theses circumstances. Sharp has been with the Highland Police Department for eight years, since it's creation, and says she has never abused sick leave. She further stated that she was not a quitter and has a clear conscious that she has been a good police officer and chief of police for the city of Highland.
Sharp said, "I am and have never been a quitter, so do what you will."