A town in North Carolina brought in a progressive town manager last month and has now lost its entire police department as a result. Kenly is a few miles outside of the state’s capital city of Raleigh and has about 2,000 residents.
Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson and all four full-time officers quit their jobs on Wednesday. Two town clerks also turned in their resignations. The town is now left with three part-time officers to run the department.
Gibson has told the press that he would consider returning to the department if newly appointed town manager Justine Jones is removed from office.
In his letter of resignation, Gibson wrote that the department has seen ups and downs in his 21 years on the force. He said that the last three years have seen “substantial progress that we had hoped to continue.”
He went on to say that because of the “hostile work environment” now present in the town government he does not believe progress is possible.
Gibson also placed a post on Facebook telling the public the reasons for his resignation, saying the new town manager has created an environment that prevents the department from performing “our duties and services to the community.” He said that while he did not know what was next for him, he expressed his love for the community that he said had become family for him.
The former chief told local reporters that there was “just a lot of stress on a lot of us” in the department, and said that the decision to resign was heartbreaking.
Jones refused to provide a media statement, saying she is “not at liberty to talk because of a personnel matter.”
Jones took over the position of town manager in June as a result of what the town described as a nationwide hiring search. Jones reportedly has previous experience working in “progressively responsible positions” in several states.
Over the course of 16 years, she has moved around in local government positions in Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
She was reportedly fired by Richland County, South Carolina, in 2015. She later sued the county government alleging racial discrimination. She also claimed illegal gender and disability discrimination and that she suffered retaliation as a “whistleblower.” The case was voluntarily dismissed in 2017.
Until the town is able to replace its full-time police department, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said that his office would help the citizens of the town and said they can “rest assured they will have deputies patrolling the streets.”