COLUMBIA — Police Chief Ken Burton said Friday that he was trying to spare innocent families further pain and humiliation when he initially chose not to explain the circumstances surrounding the abrupt retirement of Deputy Chief Tom Dresner on Tuesday.
Dresner, who has worked at the Columbia Police Department for 26 years, resigned at Burton’s request after informing the chief last week that he had been having an affair with a subordinate female officer. In a Tuesday news release, Dresner said he was retiring to pursue opportunities in the private sector.
Burton, in an e-mail to the Missourian on Friday, said he was trying to strike a difficult balance when the Police Department issued that news release, which suggested nothing amiss about Dresner’s departure.
“It is sometimes difficult to judge what the public really must know,” Burton wrote. “The management issue was solved by Tom’s retirement, I did my job, and the citizens were served. I guess I questioned whether causing these innocent families further pain and public humiliation would really serve any legitimate purpose when the end result is the same.”
“… In our effort to save some innocent people pain, there will be those that will criticize our decision. I accept and understand that criticism, but there was nothing sinister in our actions or intentions,” the message continued. “We openly discussed the possibility the affair would come out eventually anyway, and we always planned to and did respond appropriately when it did.”
Dresner’s retirement is effective Dec. 17. He has been working from outside the office this week and will use some of his vacation time next week.
The female officer remains on the job and will not be disciplined, Burton has said.