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HARDEEVILLE -- Two Hardeeville police officers and the city's treasurer resigned last week, bringing the total to four city employees who have left government positions since the start of the month.'
Lt. Eric Washington and Officer Eric Broxton of the Hardeeville Police Department each resigned after given the choice of doing so or being fired, according to family members. So did treasurer Santesia Henderson, who's married to Washington, family members said.'
Police Staff Sgt. Rick Keefner said he was fired May 1, the same day police Chief James Hubbard was told to take two weeks of vacation.'
City officials won't say why the employees no longer are with the city, citing a policy not to discuss personnel matters. Hubbard did not return messages left with his wife and with media director Paul Floeckher on Tuesday.'
The loss of the officers reduces the department's staff to 12 officers serving nearly 2,500 residents. '
Capt. Jerome White said in early February that the department had a staff of 15 officers with no vacancies.'
Family members said the officers who resigned last week were told that the city is restructuring the police department. However, no specifics on the restructuring had been ironed out as of Tuesday, according to Mayor Rodney Cannon and city administrator Shane Haynes.'
Cannon said he plans to meet with Hubbard and Haynes to discuss how the department should be restructured to better serve Hardeeville residents. And Haynes said jobs still could be cut as the city is in the process of restructuring every government department.'
In an attempt to get some answers about what was happening with the city government, about 40 residents attended the Hardeeville City Council meeting Thursday, one day after Washington resigned and two days after Broxton's departure. But they were told city officials can't talk about personnel matters, said Jonathan Young, Washington's brother-in-law.'
Henderson resigned the day after the meeting.'
"Obviously, there's a breakdown in the department," Young said, noting that he felt residents' questions weren't answered at the meeting. "We just want to know what's going on in our community. And there are many others who share our concerns."'
Cannon said the employees who have left the government were told specific reasons why the city was unhappy with their performance.'
Young, who has started a group called Concerned Citizens of Hardeeville in reaction to the dismissals, is starting to circulate a petition in hopes of getting Washington rehired.