- Kenly, North Carolina’s police department resigned en masse, citing their new town manager.
- Justine Jones, a Black woman, was selected as town manager two months before their resignations.
- Residents of Kenly are conflicted on whether or not the police resigning is a ‘race issue’.
The entire police department of a small town in North Carolina reportedly resigned almost two months after the town hired a Black woman as town manager — prompting questions about race in the small town.
Kenly Township — about 40 miles southeast of Raleigh, North Carolina — faced a mass resignation of the entire police department on July 20 after Chief Josh Gibson, along with four other officers, submitted their two-week notice, according to CBS 17.
The officers cited that their newly elected Town Manager, Justine Jones created a “hostile work environment,” per the outlet.
“All of us are very heartbroken that it had to come to this,” Gibson told CBS 17.
“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 wrote in a letter acquired by Fox News.
While the other officers submitted their resignation to Gibson, he submitted his to Jones herself, Fox reported.
According to a press release that announced Jones’s new role within the community, she was unanimously voted in by the Kenly Town Council and started her position on June 2.
“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 the statement.
“Kenly’s diversity and dynamic potential offers intriguing challenges and a promising future of growth and prosperity that I am excited to become a part of,” Jones said in the statement. “I welcome the challenge of overseeing the Town’s operations and I am looking forward to working with the Mayor, Town Council, and the talented and committed Staff of Kenly.”
However, officers in the town felt differently.
“It is with a heavy heart that I take this action. I have been with the town since 2004 and fully expected to finish my law enforcement career with the Town of Kenly,” wrote an officer with the initials G.W in another letter acquired by Fox News. Unfortunately, there are decisions being made that jeopardize my safety and make me question what the future will hold for a Kenly Police Officer.”
According to CNN, Kenly residents are conflicted on whether or not the mass police resignation was a race issue.
“I feel like they don’t want a Black woman over top of them, basically managing them or telling them what to do,” Brittney Hinnant, a Kenly resident, told CNN.
“I think there are too many jumping to conclusions, we really don’t know what is going on,” resident Joy Wright told CNN.
According to a statement released on Wednesday, The Town Council held a private emergency meeting on July 22 to address how they would move forward to keep the town operational and launched an investigation to determine the facts and circumstances that caused the mass resignation.
“Citizens should know that the Council is committed to ensuring that services will continue without disruption and that their needs will be met during this time,” the town wrote in the statement. “Once the investigations are complete, Council will convene and act accordingly based on the findings and conclusions.”
Kenly Township did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.