A North Carolina town lost its police department one month after a progressive new town manager took over.
Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson and four full-time officers resigned on Wednesday, as did two town clerks. The 2,000-person town now has only three part-time officers, according to WRAL-TV.
“In my 21 years at the Kenly Police Department, we have seen ups and downs. But, especially in the last 3 years, we have made substantial progress that we had hoped to continue. However, due to the hostile work environment now present in the Town of Kenly, I do not believe progress is possible,” Gibson wrote in his letter of resignation.
“I have put in my 2 weeks notice along with the whole police dept. … The new manager has created an environment I do not feel we can perform our duties and services to the community,” Gibson said in a Facebook post.
“I do not know what is next for me . I am letting the lord lead the way.. I have loved this community.. it has become family and one of my greatest honors to serve.. God bless you all in Kenly,” he posted.
“It was just a lot of stress on a lot of us,” Gibson said, according to WTVD-TV. “This is heartbreaking. The community has always been so tremendously supportive of us.”
— New York Post (@nypost) July 22, 2022
“They’re not just town police,” Kenly resident Nancy Cates said. “They’re our family.”
“It broke my heart,” Cates said. “I called him. … I said I protested him resigning, and the rest of them too, because they’re all great people. He does a lot for this community.”
Should the new town manager be fired?
Gibson said he would consider returning if town manager Justine Jones is booted.
Jones said she was “not at liberty to talk because of a personnel matter,” according to WRAL.
Jones began work in Kenly in June. The town claimed she was hired after a “nationwide search” and that she had “worked in progressively responsible positions” in several states, the New York Post reported.
Jones has spent 16 years working for local governments in Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
After being fired by Richland County, South Carolina, in 2015, she sued the county for racial discrimination.
At the time, she alleged “hostile” treatment from county leaders after reporting bad behavior. She also claimed she was not paid fairly. The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in 2017, the Post reported.
Justine Jones, the new Town Manager in Kenly, NC. Jones was fired from her position in Richland County, SC back in 2016. Jones sued the county for gender, race, and disability discrimination, as well as whistle blower retaliation. https://t.co/bOn68jy1kK pic.twitter.com/hKbrEPpboJ
— Kevin Jones (@SpitBubblesInc) July 22, 2022
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said his office would be responsible for Kenly.
“I will be there for the people of Kenly, and they can rest assured they will have deputies patrolling the streets,” he said.