Last week, it was reported that an entire North Carolina police force quit in protest of the town’s newly hired “progressively responsible” town manager—who happens to be a Black woman.
Kenly Police Chief Josh Gibson wrote in a Facebook post last Wednesday that he “put in my 2 weeks notice along with the whole police dept.” because the new manager has created an environment I do not feel we can perform our duties and services to the community.” He didn’t specify what the “new manager” did to create this “environment,” but, according to the New York Post, it was controversial enough that five officers who served under Gibson, the assistant town manager and a key clerk also quit.
Gibson was just as vague about why he and his department quit in his official letter of resignation, which was obtained by WRAL. In the letter, Gibson said he felt his department made “substantial progress that we had hoped to continue,” but he didn’t say anything specific about what progress was made or what state the department had progressed from. He also claimed the “work area is very hostile,” but he didn’t elaborate on that either.
Side note: Gibson said he served as Kenly’s police chief for 21 years and that he was the longest-running police chief in Johnston County,” but it turns out that ain’t true. According to WRAL, “Gibson began his tenure as police chief in 2006, 16 years ago, when the former Kenly police chief was fired” and “the longest-serving Johnston County police chief is Benson Police Chief Kenneth Edwards.” So, this man is out here lying on his resume for a job he quit because—well—we have no idea.
So, who is this town manager who has all these cops heading for the door? Here’s what we know.
Justine Jones was hired as Keny’s town manager last month—which is a pretty short tenure for a manager who has done so much to create such a “hostile” work environment that the entire environment left the workplace.
“She had started on June 2 after ‘a nationwide search,’ according to a statement celebrating the hiring of a manager hailed for having ‘worked in progressively responsible positions’ in several states,” the Post reported.
Ahh, so she was a progressive! Now, we’re getting somewhere! (And by “somewhere,” I mean, “still nowhere specific.”)
From the Post:
The release did not mention, however, how she had sued a previous employer in neighboring South Carolina for racial discrimination after she was fired in March 2015, according to WRAL.
She accused Richland County leaders of “hostile” treatment and for not paying her fairly because she was black and had a disability, court docs show. She also accused the county of discriminating against her because she was a “whistleblower” who “reported serious fraud, wrongdoing, and violations of the law.”
The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed in April 2017, court records show, without elaborating on why.
But at least when Jones claims she’s suffering under a “hostile” work environment, she gives us something to work with. We know she sued over racial discrimination, including, but not limited to, unequal pay. We also know she said she reported fraud and illegal conduct and was retaliated against for it.
Gibson, on the other hand, has given us no specific reason why an entire police department would up and bounce after less than two months of Jones being on the job. Like—and entire police force quit and all we’re getting is essentially, “We don’t like this Black lady, so we out!”
And all that did was give people on social media plenty of room to speculate, with “back the blue” types assuming what conservatives call “woke politics” was the reason for the mass exodus, while others assumed a bunch of white cops just have an issue with taking orders from a Black woman.
So far, Jones has declined to speak on what’s going on with Kenly’s police telling WRAL she was “not at liberty to talk because of a personnel matter.”
Meanwhile, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell told WRAL that his deputies will be “stepping up” and that he “will be there for the people of Kenly, and they can rest assured they will have deputies patrolling the streets,” while the Kenly police department rebuilds.
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