Only two years ago, Kathy Kirkham was Mesa's top ranking female police officer as an assistant police chief, with glowing reviews praising her commitment to excellence.

But on March 11, Kirkham was terminated three days short of qualifying for her pension, which includes 50% of her salary for life and lifetime medical benefits.

Steve Wright, a city spokesman, said Kirkham was terminated for cause and has appealed her dismissal. "It involved accessing a computer database without authorization," Wright said without elaborating exactly how she used the email.

Ryan Russell, the president of the Mesa Police Association told the Arizona Republic the firing is an injustice and denied allegations that she misused Police Chief Frank Milstead's email.