Citizen speaks on MPD, police chief at council meeting

Published 7:02 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

The Middlesboro City Council was faced with a concerned citizen during Tuesday night’s meeting. Angela Jackson requested that Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe be placed on administrative leave until the completion of the lawsuit recently filed by a former police officer.

“In light of recent allegations made by a former police officer against the Middlesboro Police Chief, I believe until this matter is cleared up the chief should be put on administrative leave without pay,” said Jackson.

Jackson also stated that she hopes an investigation will be launched into the entire police department.

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“Drug testing for the whole department including hair, blood and urine samples should be done,” Jackson stated. “I believe the allegation, the alleged conduct, described by the former police officer is correct and only the tip of the iceberg.”

Jackson recognized before the council that she has complained for several years about misconduct and violations of morals policy.

“In my opinion, the dismissed officer is a whistleblower and should be protected,” she said. “I hope that our police chief will retire. Middlesboro has been very, very good to our police chief. Not many individuals are guaranteed a job for life from the time they are born.”

She also pointed out that she hopes the city will consider updating the rules regarding the positions of city clerk, fire chief, and police chief.

“I believe it was in 2009 that the status of the three employees changed from appointed positions to whatever it is now,” she said. “A move that the State of Kentucky said was illegal. It should not be a valid change because, as the state said, it was a move made by the outgoing administration to protect political appointees.

Before closing, Jackson made one final plea with the council.

“Make an active effort to recruit women to the police and fire departments,” she said. “Those are the best and highest paid blue collar jobs in the city with wonderful benefits and positions. If you didn’t know better, you would think those jobs only belonged to men whose fathers, their uncles or cousins had been employed in the police or else had a relative in public office.”

She said it does not sound like proper vetting of applicants.

“Middlesboro is not a personal family business and people have noticed,” she stated. “Women in these two departments would be an asset — especially in domestic violence, rape and child abuse situations, and strip searches. In my opinion, strip searches are the best deterrent to repeating criminal offenses.”