Less than a week after the entire police department in Kenley, N.C., announced its resignation citing a “toxic” and “hostile” work environment, elected officials in the town of about 2,000 residents have called for law enforcement. has remained silent on the plan to move forward. . The July 20 mass resignation of the department’s police chief, four full-time officers and two town clerks, all white, comes less than two months after the town hired a new town manager, who is black. Less came after a while, leading many critics to question whether race was at the heart of the department’s sudden demise.
Justin Jones, who has worked for 16 years in local government in Minnesota, Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina, was selected for town manager after a “nationwide search” of 30 candidates, according to a town. News for the newspaper. He started the job on June 2.
Kenley is. 36% black20% Hispanic and 36% non-Hispanic white.
Police Chief Josh Gibson Resignation letter Pointing to Jones, he said he was pleased with his department’s progress over the past three years, but the “hostile” work environment Jones created made it impossible to continue progress. Gibson, a 21-year police veteran, did not expand on the alleged details, citing legal concerns, but added that he would consider returning to work if Jones was fired.
He reiterated these sentiments on his personal social media page.
“I have given in my 2 weeks notice with the entire police department.” Gibson Wrote on Facebook Last Wednesday. “The new manager has created an environment where I don’t think we can perform our duties and services to the community.”
In other resignation letters, Retrieved by WRALtwo town clerks and other officers cited “toxic,” “hostile” and stressful work conditions.
No department employee expanded on the alleged working conditions.
In Jones’ new position, the town manager’s roles and responsibilities are broad, including overseeing the day-to-day operations of local government. A town manager often manages internal affairs and plans the city’s budget, which includes the policing budget, for approval by the city council. A town manager and mayor have similar responsibilities, but a mayor is elected, while a town manager is appointed.
Gibson Cited staff shortages As a challenge that eventually led to his resignation. The police department is supposed to have eight full-time officers, but has been operating with only five for the past few months. There are also three part-time officers.
But critics believe these problems go beyond personnel challenges.
They don’t want any blacks to lead. This is Kenley,” said Cynthia Kirby, a longtime Kenley resident who is also black. News and Observer last weekend. “They’re always harassing black people. It’s racist.”
“My one question is, what happened between May and July? It takes time for you to get a new boss,” Kenley resident Dennis Bennett told the local newspaper. “We just want to make sure the process is fair. There is, and this ultimatum to his competition as police chief is not a good practice.”
on Friday, Kenley Town Council A closed-door meeting was held just two days after department members announced the resignations to make sense of the immediate changes, but no decision was made on how to move forward.
Kenley Mayor Herbert Louis “Twee” Hales II did not return multiple requests for comment from OlxPraca. Neither did the four town council members whom OlxPraca tried to contact.
Supporters of the police department say the city should support those who have been there the longest.
“We have a great police department. [Jones] Not for our police department,” Kenley resident Crystal McGowan Said outside Friday meeting.
Kenley’s town attorney, Chip Hewitt, said Nexstar’s WNCNA local television station says the current situation is unlike anything it has seen representing cities in more than two and a half decades.
“I’ve seen politicians and mayors and council members resign. I’ve seen employees resign,” Hewitt said. “I’ve never seen a resignation where it’s an entire department.”
Mayor Hales said Another emergency meeting It will be on Wednesday or Thursday this week — and it will be open to the public.
To ease public concern, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office has already said it will respond to calls in Kenley as needed.
“If necessary, I will assign deputies to patrol the streets to ensure public safety,” said Sheriff Steve Bizzell. Hill.
Cover Thumbnail Image Example: OlxPraca; (Photos: Kenley Police Department, Getty Images)