/  07.27.2022

Last week (July 20), an entire police force in North Carolina resigned after a Black town manager was hired. Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson shared the news in a now-deleted Facebook post. After being with the department for 21 years, Gibson wrote, “I have put in my 2 weeks notice along with the whole police dept.” The assistant town manager and a key clerk joined the chief and five officers.

Gibson’s message continued, “The new manager has created an environment I do not feel we can perform our duties and services to the community.” Kenly now has three part-time officers serving a town of around 2,000 residents. According to local Raleigh news station WRAL, the new town manager Justine Jones was employed for about a month before the fallout began. Gibson believed Jones created a “hostile work environment.” Following the chief’s unexpected announcement, an emergency town meeting was held to determine how to move forward.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell promised to assist the town with dependable officers. “I will be there for the people of Kenly, and they can rest assured they will have deputies patrolling the streets,” he said. Bizzell added, “We’re stepping up and stepping out, and as Johnston County and the sheriff’s office, we’re going to be there for our people and the citizens. They may be the citizens of the town of Kenly, but they’re still citizens of the county of Johnston, also.” Officers from Johnston County’s State Highway Patrol have agreed to help with highway incidents, as reported by WRAL.

The New York Post added that Gibson said he would consider rejoining the force if Jones was relieved of her duties. At the time of her hiring, a statement said Jones began on June 2 following “a nationwide search.” She was praised for working “in progressively responsible positions” in multiple states. Jones reportedly sued a former South Carolina employer for racial discrimination after being fired in March 2015. That was omitted from the release, according to the outlet.

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