A North Carolina town’s entire police department, including their 21-year veteran chief, has resigned in protest of the “hostile work environment” created by a recently hired progressive town manager.
In a series of resignation letters delivered Tuesday and Wednesday, every officer working for the Kenly Police Department announced that they would be retiring from their position. Multiple resigning officers, including Police Chief Josh Gibson, cited “stress” and a “hostile work environment” as the main reasons for their departure.
“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,” Gibson wrote. “However, due to the hostile department now present in the Town of Kenly, I do not believe progress is possible.”
The wave of resignations leaves Kenly, a town of just over 2,000 people, with only three part-time officers serving the community. Departing officers pointed to the hiring of Justine Jones, Kenly’s town manager, as the main factor in their decision to leave.
Jones, who has not commented on the police department’s mass resignation, was hired by the town last June after serving in a number of other local government positions. In a press release announcing her hiring, Kenly celebrated her having “worked in progressively responsible positions” in other states.
“Jones has dedicated her career to public service over the last 16 years during which she worked in progressively responsible positions with local governments in Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina,” the town said in a statement.
After Jones was fired from a previous position, she sued Richland County, South Carolina in 2015, alleging that the county had engaged in racial discrimination and failed to pay her fairly. Records show the lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in 2017.
In an interview, Gibson said he would consider returning to his position if Jones were to be replaced. The departed police chief also said he wasn’t yet sure of his plans for the future.
“I do not know what is next for me,” Gibson wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”