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A third party, independent investigation into the actions of Zebulon Police Department chief Jonathan Hemphill came to a conclusion at the Dec. 13 Zebulon council meeting.

Zebulon police chief under investigation

The city of Zebulon announced Oct. 11 that they “received information and allegations” concerning chief Jonathan Hemphill and they will have an independent, third party investigate and provide the city with specific findings and recommendations. 

As of press time Monday, there was no update on the investigation available from Zebulon city officials. 

The investigation was prompted after chief Hemphill was pulled over by officers in Molena for having a ‘ghost tag’ and dark tint on his windows and disrespecting officers during the traffic stop. Officer body camera footage of the traffic stop was broadcast on an Atlanta station and shared widely online. Hemphill jumps out of this vehicle and says he was upset because ‘I spoke to you when I come by and now you’re pulling me over,’ meaning he flashed his blue lights when passing the officers. A female officer asked why he was being ‘hostile’ and he replied, “I don’t have to talk to you.”

According to Molena police chief Matt Polk, Hemphill was not issued a citation during the stop and the city of Molena’s police department was removed from the city of Zebulon’s emergency radio repeater five days after the Sept. 25 incident. 

“The Molena Police Department swapped from the Zebulon repeater to Pike County after I was advised on September 30, 2022 that I needed to find another radio channel by chief Hemphill after he was told no disciplinary action would be taken against my officers regarding the traffic stop because after reviewing the video, it was determined they did nothing wrong,” said Polk. 

A digital radio agreement between chiefs Hemphill and Polk was created on May 8, 2022 to allow the city of Molena to share Zebulon’s digital radio band. The agreement said that Hemphill agreed to share the Zebulon police band as long as Polk remained chief in Molena. 

There was a large law enforcement presence during the city of Zebulon’s Oct. 11 city council meeting and several spoke in support of Hemphill. 

Shannon Moulton, who worked for the Pike County Sheriff’s Office until 2013, asked that officials “slow down and look at the totality of everything to make the correct decision on Chief Hemphill because no laws have been violated.” 

Zebulon mayor Joe Walter said the city’s facebook page – which is supposed to provide information for citizens – had to be shut down due to the “hatred coming from people who probably couldn’t find us on a map if they wanted to.”

After the regular council session, a closed, executive session was held for more than an hour and at the conclusion, the statement regarding the investigation of Hemphill was released. 


  1. Lloyd Cox Lloyd Cox October 16, 2022

    As a 40 year LEO, I can assure you this “investigation” shouldn’t take too long. The question is, what is the city going to do? This man is no better than the other thugs out there who are trying to destroy our profession. Take his badge and his police car with his “official tag” and send him packing. He will never get the respect of his officers (especially woman) and has no business being in law enforcement. Buh Bye Chief!

    • Dennis Dennis January 7, 2023

      Have you seen the followup? The Chief received an oral reprimand. I am so thankful I don’t live on any area within that jurisdiction, and that my safety hasn’t been compromised by his ego.

  2. Alan Alan October 16, 2022

    that chief acted like a toddler who didn’t get what he wanted.
    he is the epitome of everything that is wrong with police and the entitlement that comes along with their culture. these officers were nothing but respectful towards him and he’s still acted like a little child slamming his door and saying “I don’t want to talk to you”.

    leadership like this is why police think they can do anything they want.
    they are shown by their leaders that being a little brat is acceptable for their career

  3. Bryan Hallman Bryan Hallman October 17, 2022

    Shameful. Whether he broke any laws isn’t the point here. He was being unprofessional and disrespectful to other law enforcement officers who where just trying to do their job and then demanded THEY be punished. Now he’s retaliating against a whole police department because he didn’t get his way. Simply childish. People like him should not be in positions of leadership and authority.

  4. Al S. Al S. October 18, 2022

    This is exactly the kind of bad cop who gives all the good cops across the country a bad name. Chief Hemphill should be very proud for putting Zebulon on the map, and your city should be very proud of this egomaniac!

    Thank goodness for the two good cops at the scene who remained cool headed and professional.

  5. Robert Robert October 19, 2022

    This is not a misunderstanding… this is a personality flaw that has no place in law enforcement. Hemphill believes he is above the law. Instead of set an example and behave the way a police officer would want someone pulled over to behave, he attempts to throw his self-important weight around. He should be fired as an example. Absolutely unacceptable.

  6. Rich Rich October 20, 2022

    Personally, I struggle to understand the police chiefs reasoning. All police officers that I know of (me included) have at one time taken an oath to protect the citizens they are hired to protect. This police chiefs actions are wrong on so many levels. His actions place the citizens of the adjacent town in harms way if effective and speedy police response efforts are hampered because of his actions. Secondly, this police chief’s actions place the law enforcement officers in the adjacent town in harms way because without being able to radio for assistance, someone could easily get harmed or killed. There is no defensible position any person could take to defend this police chiefs actions.

  7. Jim P Jim P October 26, 2022

    His conduct is reprehensible! Under investigation,, watch the video not much to “investigate” here. Why isn’t he on administrative leave while they “investigate” this????????????????

  8. Georgia LE Georgia LE October 27, 2022

    As bad as the initial traffic stop encounter was, everyone can have a bad day. Was it absolutely inexcusable for a fellow law enforcement professional, much less a Chief act that way on a legal traffic stop? Absolutely. He had a choice; many to be exact. He could have stopped his shenanigans and apologized at any point during the stop. He didn’t. He berated and disrespected fellow officers simply doing their job. The gas in the fire is to then remove the fellow agency from repeater use? That is the last straw and beyond childish and embarrassing for all us fellow law enforcement professionals out there. This man has shown he doesn’t deserve to have the title of Chief and how can he be trusted to act fairly and impartial to the city he has sworn to protect when he can’t even respect other officers. Absolutely inexcusable.

  9. Concerned citizen Concerned citizen November 6, 2022

    Definitely should not be in ANY kind of leadership or supervisory position with a “ holier than thou” attitude

  10. Disappointed Disappointed November 10, 2022

    I’ve been in Policing for 27 years, Chief Hemphill is a disgrace to Law Enforcement for his disgusting and out of control behavior, he is unprofessional and anyone defending him lacks the basic sense God gave the common dog. I have to wonder, if he is treating uniformed Police Officers wearing body cameras like this it makes me wonder how he treats citizens. If I ever came across someone who behaved like him, I would have handled the situation the same way the Molena Officers did, professionally and calm, and it would have been citation issued, check box for an appeal, drive safely, I don’t care who you are!

  11. Heather Stowe Heather Stowe December 3, 2022

    Why was he not issued citations? He had a fake tag and dark windows, both of which are illegal, not to mention harassing and threatening the officers. He should have been handcuffed and put in the back of the car, yet he drove off scot-free?? And people actually stood up and said he did nothing wrong? Did he pay them to say that? This piece of trash needs to be fired at a minimum. This is the problem with our police force: the bad cops get to stay cops and make the others bad by association

  12. Brad Brad January 3, 2023

    I really hope to later hear that he was fired. He behaved during the stop like a spoiled brat, and did so again after learning the officers were not going to be punished. He knows they did nothing wrong and wants them punished anyway. For what? Not knowing their place?

    Someone like that being in charge of a police dept is dangerous. What happens if the next person he has a confrontation with doesn’t have a badge and a gun to protect them?

    Cancelling the radio agreement could have put innocent lives at risk, just to be petty toward two innocent officers. Not to mention since he isn’t part of an undercover investigation, he’s not supposed to have those ghost tags. Yet another abuse of power.

    If they don’t fire him, they send the message that abuse of power by law enforcement is perfectly acceptable in their city.

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