NC town to seek new police chief as investigation into resignations, allegations wraps

·2 min read

The Kenly town manager still has her job after mass resignations that brought national attention to the small Johnston County town.

In their first meeting since the resignation of six employees, the Kenly Town Council took no action on employment status of Town Manager Justine Jones.

Jones, who was hired June 2, was placed at the center of allegations of a hostile work environment by the town’s former police chief, four officers and two town administrators.

The employees resigned from their roles July 20 and the last day for all officers in the town was Aug. 2.

Kenly town manager Justine Jones prepares for a Town Council emergency session in Kenly N.C., Friday, July 22, 2022. The session is in response to the abrupt resignation of the police chief, four officers, and two administrators.
Kenly town manager Justine Jones prepares for a Town Council emergency session in Kenly N.C., Friday, July 22, 2022. The session is in response to the abrupt resignation of the police chief, four officers, and two administrators.

Nearly two weeks after the news of the resignations, the town’s attorney, Chip Hewett, announced he would lead an investigation to determine the facts relating to them and the allegations against Jones, he said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Hewett said the investigation could conclude this week.

“The results will be presented before the end of the month and Council has instructed the Attorney to call for a special meeting once the investigation is available,” Hewett said in a statement.

At a special closed-door meeting July 22, the Town Council was met by more than 50 residents who sought to know what caused the entire police department to quit. The council also got pressure from some Kenly residents who wanted to see Jones removed from her position.

The council was silent about what was they discussed and whether they talked about removing Jones.

Since the officers quit, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Officer has sent deputies to fill in and respond to emergencies and other calls.

Hewett said the Town Council has agreed to form a search committee for a new police chief and officers that includes Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell, and Kenly Mayor Herbert Hales.

The News & Observer could not reach Hales for comment late Tuesday afternoon.