KENLY, N.C. (WTVO) — The entire police force of Kenly, North Carolina resigned citing a “hostile work environment” after the town hired a “progressively responsible” town manager.
The town is left with only three part-time officers to serve a population of 2,000, according to WRAL.
Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson said the assistant town manager and a clerk had joined him and his officers in quitting in protest over the “hostile” environment created by new town manager Justine Jones, who started last month.
Gibson, who began his service in 2006, said he felt his force has “made substantial progress” in dealing with “ups and downs.”
“However, due to the hostile work environment in the Town of Kenly, I do not believe progress is possible,” he said in his resignation letter.
He added that he would consider returning to the force if Jones quit or was fired.
Jones was hired after a nationwide search, according to a statement which said she had “worked in progressively responsible positions” in Minnesota, Virginia, South and North Carolina.
However, WRAL reported that Jones, who is Black, sued a previous employer for racial discrimination after she was fired in March 2015.
Jones had accused county leaders in Richland County of “hostile” treatment and unfair pay because she was Black and had a disability, according to court documents. She claimed she was fired for being a whistleblower.
After her termination, she worked at her own consulting company before being hired by Kenly.
Due to the police resignations, the Johnson County Sheriff said his office would assist the town.
“I will be there for the people of Kenly, and they can rest assured they will have deputies patrolling the streets,” Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.
The State Highway Patrol also said it would assist the Sheriff’s Office.