COLUMBIA – An affair with a subordinate prompted Columbia Deputy Police Chief Tom Dresner's retirement announcement this week, Police Chief Ken Burton said.
Dresner told the police chief last Friday about the affair with a female officer and offered to retire, Burton said.
"It had come to the point where people were starting to find out about it," Burton said. "Out of respect to me, he decided to tell me about it before it became public."
After telling Dresner he needed some time to digest it, Burton met with Dresner on Saturday and told him he thought it would be best if Dresner retired.
On Tuesday, Dresner announced his retirement, saying he planned to seek a job in the private sector, possibly the firearms industry.
"This situation has been very painful for many people, especially those closest to me," Dresner said via text message Thursday. "I caused that pain, and I am responsible for it. Now I must take these broken pieces and do the best I can with what I have done, to try to make things right."
"I am not going to hide anymore," he said in the message. "My secret is out and I have begun to seek forgiveness and move forward. If anyone needs to place blame, I am your man."
Dresner also thanked Columbia in the message.
"This city has given me so much for these last 26 years," he said. "I am grateful beyond words."
Burton said the subordinate employee is still on staff and will not be disciplined.
"In these kinds of situations, it was the supervisor who's at fault, not the subordinate employee," he said. "It doesn't do any good to put the other person out."
Dresner, 50, began working as a Columbia police officer on Sept. 4, 1984. He worked as a patrol officer and property crimes detective for nine years before being promoted to sergeant and then captain. He was the SWAT team commander from 2000 to 2009, then served as interim police chief for nine months before Burton's arrival.
As interim police chief, he handled a Taser incident in which a man suffered injuries by falling off a bridge after being stunned with Tasers, as well as the “Hickman High School YouTube brawl” from October 2008.
Dresner's last day is Dec. 17. He is working outside the office this week by Burton's request, and he will be on vacation next week.
Burton said the search for a new deputy chief will begin next year. He said he is "fairly confident" he can find a replacement internally but is also leaving open the option of looking externally.