'It's devastating': Kenly business owners react to PD resigning

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Friday, July 22, 2022
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From at least twenty years of seeing a familiar face, to having no one at the Kenly Police Department on Thursday, Nancy Cates is left speechless after five police officers, includ

KENLY, N.C. (WTVD) -- From at least twenty years of seeing a familiar face, to imagining no one at the Kenly Police Department on Thursday, Nancy Cates, who works at Davis Drug Company of Kenly, is left speechless after five police officers, including the police chief, resigned Wednesday night.

"They're not just town police," Cates said. "They're our family."

For more than two decades, Kenly police chief Josh Gibson served the town with a population of at least 1,500, calling his resignation "heartbreaking."

Gibson cited issues with the town manager and staffing shortages as some of the things that led to the difficult decision. The police department should have eight full-time officers, but Gibson said they've been operating with five for the last few months.

"It was just a lot of stress on a lot of us trying to maintain and keep coverage," Gibson said. "This is heartbreaking. The community has always been so tremendously so supportive of us."

Gibson confirmed, a total of five police officers, including himself, the town clerk and the town's utility clerk quit.

For Cates, Gibson's announcement was difficult to accept.

"It broke my heart," Cates said. "I called him ... I said I protested him resigning, and the rest of them too, cause they're all great people. He does a lot for this community."

Without Kenly PD, residents questioned their safety, however the Johnston County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Services assured the public the town is covered.

"We actually have a unit stationed at Kenly fire department in downtown," Johnston County emergency services director Kevin Hubbard said. "So we do not anticipate any impacts to our ability to provide emergency medical services."

Sheriff Steve Bizzell said deputies will be assigned to patrol the streets to ensure public safety if and when needed.

"I can assure you that we will be there for the people of Kenly," Bizzell said, adding that there will also be state troopers available to investigate any accidents within the Kenly city limits during this time.

"I hope they'll do their job but I can't pick up the phone and call their personal number and say we got somebody in here that looks suspicious," Cates said. "We can't do that because we don't have those personal numbers like we do with Kenly police, so it's a big difference."

Gibson said the town manager has not reached out to him but he would like to talk to the council and get some resolutions.

The Town of Kenly announced there will be an emergency meeting on Friday at town hall.

ABC11 has also reached out to the town manager for comments but has not heard back.