COLUMBIA — Police Chief Ken Burton has asked his department's internal affairs division to investigate an anonymous complaint that a Columbia Police Officers Association golf tournament earlier this month included topless waitresses and lewd behavior.
The event took place June 11 at A.L. Gustin Golf Course, which is owned and operated by MU. The anonymous letter was delivered to the Missourian on Tuesday. It alleges that female employees from Truman’s Bar and Grill “were clothed in bikini bottoms only.” The letter goes on to state that “jello shots were served directly off of their bare breasts.”
The letter's writers withheld their names. The complaint also listed an incorrect date for the event, saying it occurred on June 15.
Only about 15 percent of the event's attendees were police officers, said John Dye, Columbia Police Officers Association marketing director.
Burton said internal affairs will try to determine whether the allegations are true and whether Police Department employees were involved in any inappropriate behavior. If so, he said, they will be disciplined.
Dye, who co-chaired the golf tournament, stated in an email that the association has received no complaints regarding the alleged behavior.
“The CPOA (Columbia Police Officers Association) neither approves nor condones such actions; we will investigate this matter further,” Dye said, adding that the association will reach out to representatives of the 38 teams of four who participated in the tournament. Dye is also in contact with the management of Truman’s Bar and Grill about investigations on their end.
“Neither of us want these types of allegations to damage what has been a wonderful charity fundraiser for the past 19 years,” he said.
Dye also said the fact that the letter's writers included an incorrect day and date for the event raises questions about whether they actually attended.
Ashley Cuttle, executive director of the association, was unavailable for comment due to a family emergency.
The Columbia Police Officers Association Golf Tournament is a private event in its 19th year. Proceeds benefit numerous local charities. This year the tournament was expected to raise more than $19,000. Only about 15 percent of golfers in the tournament are police officers, Dye said.
Jim Knoesel, head golf pro at A.L. Gustin, said he was working on the day of the fundraiser with four other employees. Knoesel said that he has received no complaints and that he did not see any of the alleged lewd behavior. A.L. Gustin would not encourage or tolerate that, Knoesel said. He believes the golfers followed and respected all the rules.
Russ Fischer, owner of Truman’s Bar and Grill, said there were no topless women at the event as far as he knows. Dye's email said that the Truman's servers were wearing "'Hooters-style" outfits and that some wore bikini tops later in the day. He also said he had talked with two other association board members who reported seeing no topless women.
Truman’s has worked with the association for more than six years, Fischer said. Truman’s is listed as an "honorary chief" level sponsor on the association's website. Truman’s received no payment for its work at the tournament because it was a charity event.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.