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City of Graysville photo / Julie Tanksley

Just before Christmas, Graysville, Tennessee, city commissioners fired the city's chief of police who has been named in two lawsuits, including one alleging she watched a woman undress, shower and use a feminine hygiene product before taking the woman to jail.

After having a closed-door executive meeting, newly elected Mayor Charles Kaylor made the motion to abolish the position of administrative chief, effectively firing former Chief Julie Tanksley on Dec. 21. A reason was not stated, and the motion passed unanimously.

Graysville is a small town in Rhea County, not far from the Hamilton County border, with a population of just over 1,500 people.

Kaylor declined to comment Thursday afternoon and referred questions to the city's attorney Howard Upchurch, who did not return a request for comment.

Tanksley also declined to comment but said she had not been presented with any termination papers. Her attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

In a Facebook Live recording of the Dec. 21 meeting, Kaylor, who has previously served as a commissioner and mayor, asked Tanksley, "where is our police car [and keys] at?"

"It's at my house," Tanksley responded.

"Everything you own from the city is at your house? We'll need to get an address so we can pick everything up," Kaylor said. "At this time, do not be in the police department."

A short time later, a man is heard letting Kaylor know that Tanksley was trying to collect some of her belongings from her former office.

"She needs to come back. We've got to get our stuff. She has to come back here in business hours," Kaylor tells the man. "She's no longer an employee, so she's not allowed in there unless it's business hours. If she continues, you know what your job is."

Kaylor then moved to hire Gregg Roberson, a retired 21-year veteran of the Rhea County Sheriff's Office, as interim "patrolling police chief."

A patrolling police chief is involved not only with administrative duties but with regular patrol duties and is expected to respond to calls as well.

Before taking the vote, Kaylor asked Roberson multiple questions about his qualifications and experience, including whether he had state law enforcement certification and whether he "got along" with the sheriff's office. Roberson said he is certified and he does get along with the sheriff's office.

Roberson retired from the sheriff's office as a corporal in 2017, according to The Herald-News.

"We are all here for one purpose," Roberson said. "I don't care what agency you work for. If you're in law enforcement, you're here for one purpose, that is, to protect the citizens of the community in which we reside in. Sometimes that protection force has to overlap to ensure 100% positive protection, and if I have anything to do with it, that's exactly what's going to happen.

"There is a healing process that's got to take place. And it will take place."

The motion to hire Roberson in an interim capacity passed unanimously.

As for the lawsuits in which Tanksley is named, she and her co-defendants, including two other officers and the city, have all denied any wrongdoing.

Tanksley has previously been indicted in McMinn County, Tennessee, on two counts of extortion after allegedly seizing personal property until the arrestees contributed money to a police department fund.

She was found not guilty of those charges, something the city has cited as its reason for not removing her as chief. But 12th Judicial District Attorney General Mike Taylor has said his office would not prosecute cases in which Tanksley was the charging officer or a witness because her credibility would be "called into serious question."

Contact Rosana Hughes at 423-757-6327, rhughes@timesfreepress.com or follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

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