Columbia Police Chief Won't Comment on Sanders' Reinstatement

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COLUMBIA -  Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said Wednesday that he will not comment on a possible reinstatement of former officer Rob Sanders.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Burton, but his administrative assistant Rebecca Evans said "The Chief is booked until five o'clock tonight and it is my understanding that he will not be making a statement about Robert Sanders." 

Sanders was acquitted Tuesday of third degree assault charges by Circuit Judge Carol England. After his acquittal, Sanders said he plans to get his job back at the Columbia Police Department. Sanders will have to petition the city's Personnel Advisory Board to get his job back again.

Sanders was charged for shoving inmate Kenneth Baker in a holding cell on August 15, 2011. Baker suffered a fractured vertebrae and from that incident.

Nine days after the incident, Sanders was put on administrative leave while the department conducted an internal investigation. 

The department cleared Sanders of all allegations, but Chief Burton still chose to fire him.

In September 2011, Chief Burton told KOMU 8 News, "The personnel action that has been taken demonstrates a zero tolerance for conduct that undermines the Columbia Police Department's credibility, or that may damage the public's trust in our department."

The city's Personnel Advisory Board will hold a hearing where Sanders can present his case for reinstatement.  The city can also present their case for Sanders' termination. The board will then make a recommendation to City Manager Mike Matthes, who will have 30 days to make a decision on Sanders.

Margrace Buckler, director of Human Resources for Columbia, said a typical hearing before the board takes a full day before going onto the next phase.

"If the final determination was to reinstate him to his job then there would be discussion about back pay and about those sorts of things things that would need to be calculated and determined," Buckler said. "And so those things would be figured out. And if reinstatement is what happens then they give a date and that's what happens." 

The city is in the process of polling board members about an available date to hold a hearing regarding Sanders.