Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson wrote in a Facebook post he and all five of his officers as well as two other town officials quit in protest of Justine Jones. Jones, who became town manager last month, has created a “hostile work environment,” Gibson claimed.
“I have put in my 2 weeks notice along with the whole police dept.,” wrote Gibson, who has been on Kenly’s force for 21 years. “The new manager has created an environment I do not feel we can perform our duties and services to the community.”
Gibson did not specify what his beef was with Jones, who started the job on June 2 after what the town called a “nationwide search.” The news release announcing her hiring lauded her for having “worked in progressively responsible positions” in several states. It did not mention that Jones had sued a prior employer, Richland County, S.C., for gender and racial discrimination after she was fired in 2015, according to WRAL. The suit was later dismissed.
Jones has two Master’s degrees, one in public policy from the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota and a second one in public administration from the City University of New York Baruch College. Prior to taking the job in Kenly, she listed herself on LinkedIn as “Principal CEO” of her own consulting company, Word of Mouth Realtime.
Jones declined to discuss the mass resignation, telling the station she was “not at liberty to talk because of a personnel matter.”
Gibson said in his resignation letter he would consider coming back to work if Jones was fired.
Town Attorney Chip Hewett told WRAL News that the town would hold an emergency meeting Friday night to discuss how the town would be handling public safety.
“We just learned about this [and] it affects the entire police department and staff members,” Hewett said. “We are looking at having an emergency special meeting to figure out how to move forward with it.”
Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said his office would patrol Kenly.
“I will be there for the people of Kenly, and they can rest assured they will have deputies patrolling the streets,” he said.
Kenly, located about 45 miles southwest of Raleigh, has a population of just under 2,000. Its nickname is “Friendly Kenly.”