COLUMBIA — Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton pledged to stand his ground Thursday in the face of rising opposition.
Burton released a statement Thursday morning affirming his commitment to his job. In the statement, he expressed his continued dedication to Columbia and to his command.
"Based on the Anderson report, the Columbia City Manager has created a 'roadmap' for the future of the Columbia Police Department. He has asked me to stay and work with him as we continue to move toward our goal of becoming the premier law enforcement agency in Missouri.
"There is much work to be done and the journey will not be easy, but nothing that is worthwhile ever is. My commitment to providing superior law enforcement services to our citizens and the success of the CPD is unwavering, and I intend to see it through.
"I greatly appreciate all of the support, feedback and even the criticisms members of the community have shared thus far, and I hope they will continue to communicate with me about what they need and want from their police department.”
Burton said that he would not make further comments about the matter.
On Wednesday, the Columbia Fraternal Order of Police addressed a letter to Mayor Bob McDavid and City Manager Mike Matthes that called for Burton's immediate removal, citing “numerous policy and city ordinance violations.”
The Missouri State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police added its backing to the Columbia Fraternal Order’s complaint.
In a statement released Wednesday, the state lodge specifically condemned Burton’s actions in terminating former Officer Rob Sanders after Sanders was exonerated by an internal investigation into his shoving of an inmate in custody.
“To a man we found Chief Burton’s actions to be reprehensible and for this reason we took the unusual step of formally condemning Chief Burton’s actions,” the statement said.
There are 10 members of the order’s executive board who voted unanimously for the condemnation. This is the first time a condemnation vote has ever been held by the organization, the statement said.
Ashley Cuttle, executive director of the Columbia Fraternal Order of Police, said about 140 of Columbia's 160 police officers are members.
Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.