Kenly officials hold closed meeting after police chief, fellow officers resign

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Monday, July 25, 2022
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Dozens of people were at Kenly Townhall Friday night, curious about the fate of their town's police force days after the chief said he and fellow officers were stepping down.

KENLY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Dozens of people were at Kenly Townhall Friday night, curious about the fate of their town's police force days after the chief said he and fellow officers were stepping down.

"What's happened; I'm very concerned about it so that's what brought me out tonight," one citizen said

"To support the town employees who have worked here a very, very long time who I feel have been run out by the new town manager," Christel McGowan said.

Nearly 40 people waited outside as the town immediately went into a closed session. The mayor, town manager Justine Jones, and members of the town council were visible through the doors.

Former police chief Josh Gibson says Jones is the reason he and four other officers were leaving in his Facebook post earlier this week.

Two other employees also put in their notice saying they could no longer deal with what they call a "hostile work environment."

"It was a powerful move, it got a lot of people here but beyond that I'm not sure why," Denise Bennett said. "We want to make sure that the town manager knows we support her. She's only been here a couple of months. We ask ourselves the question what happened between may and July,"

Jones started last month after 16 years in public service in Minnesota, Virginia, and South Carolina. She walked into the meeting just before it started and quickly left after it ended.

Nearly three years ago, Chief Gibson called the SBI to look into the small small town department. A councilman stated that the investigation centered around falsified police reports and illegal searches.

"The town still has a patrol, we still have police coverage and we will continue to do so," Mayor Tooie Hales said.

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