Columbia Police Department Chief Ken Burton resigns

1 year 1 month 4 weeks ago Friday, December 28 2018 Dec 28, 2018 Friday, December 28, 2018 4:12:00 PM CST December 28, 2018 in News
By: Ryan Takeo, KOMU 8 Managing Editor & David Estrada, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - Ken Burton resigned as police chief of the Columbia Police Department, the city announced in a late afternoon press release Friday.

Burton had been placed on administrative leave last week.

The press release said Burton submitted his resignation, effective January 3 at 5 p.m., to Interim City Manager John Glascock. Chief Burton will remain on paid administrative leave until his resignation date.

With Burton's resignation, Dale Roberts, Executive Director of the Columbia Police Officers' Association, said their "long ordeal is over."

"It's been an ongoing struggle with the situation between the chief and the officers and problems at the department," he said. "This is sort of a light at the end of the tunnel."
Tracy Wilson-Kleekamp, president of the group Race Matters, Friends, said Burton didn't have any other options but to resign. 
"Chief Burton felt short of the kind of professionalism that his officers need and the public need at this time," she said. 
Both Roberts and Wilson-Kleekamp said Burton's resignation was the result of multiple factors.
"We've been taking information to the city for some time now about problems with turnover, problems with morale, problems with recruitment, problems with retention," Roberts said. 
Wilson-Kleekamp said, "It was his own undoing, his own sloppiness, his own lack of commitment to his job that got him in the place that he's in."
The City provided two months separation pay to Burton in accordance with city statute.

The city said Deputy Chief Jill Schlude will remain in the role as acting police chief. The release said in the coming weeks, Glascock will be conducting a process to fill the interim chief of police.

The release said a search for a permanent chief of police will not begin until after the Columbia City Council has installed a new city manager.

Burton's resignation comes after various calls for him to step down. Here's a timeline of notable events related to his career:

April 25, 2012: The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) called for Ken Burton to resign for wrongful termination of officer Rob Sanders, KOMU reported. The union cited Burton’s "lack of response" to complaints within the police department and "questionable integrity."

April 26, 2012: Burton responds to FOP's calls for termination.

July, 19 2016: Race Matters Friends calls for Burton to resign after members were angered by Burton’s response to racial profiling.

Nov. 20, 2018: City manager Mike Matthes resigns, partially due to how he handles community policing efforts.

Dec. 20, 2018: Burton was placed on paid administrative leave.

Dec. 28, 2018: Burton resigns.

Wilson-Kleekamp said she hopes the city hires a new police chief with a wider world view. 

"We need people who live in multi-dimensional worlds and can see things from multiple perspectives and I think that that was really a downfall of Chief Burton," she said. 

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