The entire police force for Kenly, North Carolina resigned in protest last week over the small town’s new “progressively responsible” town manager.
Police Chief Josh Gibson announced the force’s collective retirement in post on Facebook, blaming the town manager Justine Jones for the group’s decision.
“I have put in my 2 weeks notice along with the whole police dept.,” he wrote, referring to five other officers, as well as the assistant town manager and a key clerk.
“The new manager has created an environment I do not feel we can perform our duties and services to the community,” he added.
Gibson’s Facebook account appears to have been deleted as of Tuesday.
In his official resignation letter obtained by WRAL, Gibson reiterated his reasons for quitting the force, although he did not specifically call out the manager in his letter as he did on Facebook.
“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 said.
While neither his Facebook post nor his resignation letter provided details on the force’s issues with Jones, Gibson said he would consider revealing the problems if Jones was let go.
Kenly officials held a closed emergency meeting on Friday in the wake of the resignations. Jone refused to comment on the situation, telling WRAL that she was “not at liberty to talk because of a personnel matter.”
According to the outlet, Jones was previously employed by Richland County, S.C. as a manager of research and assistant director. After she was fired in March 2015, Jones, a black woman, sued the county for alleged racial and gender discrimination.
She accused county leaders of “hostile” treatment and claimed that she was not fairly compensated due to her race. Jones also asserted that she was treated differently because of a disability.
The lawsuit was ultimately voluntarily dismissed, but court records did not reveal why the case was dropped.
Jones has worked for 16 years in local governments throughout the United States, including Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. She has a Master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota and a Master’s degree in public administration from the City University of New York Baruch College.
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said his deputies would help support the town of Kenly while officials work out a policing solution.
“I will be there for the people of Kenly, and they can rest assured they will have deputies patrolling the streets,” he insisted.