Lawyer for Police Chief Burton Hints at Possible Resignation Bargain

Jul 20, 2016

Credit KBIA file photo

Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton says he would consider a buyout from the city to leave his job, according to a letter his attorney sent to Mayor Brian Treece.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that Burton’s attorney, Thad Mulholland, accused Treece of allegedly violating Article 2, Section 12 of the city charter. That section makes it illegal for the council to request the removal of a city staff member, such as the police chief, and is punishable by a forfeiture of their position with the city.

However, Mulholland told the Tribune that Burton did not see a written notice of the intention to remove him from office.

The trouble for Burton began after a survey of Columbia Police Officer Association members said that about 78 percent of those members felt that morale within the department became somewhat or significantly worse in the past 3 to 5 years. CPOA Director Dale Roberts said in a press release that the Columbia Police Department is “in crisis,” and that immediate action is necessary.

Then, at Monday’s city council meeting, Burton faced additional backlash from activists who walked out in the middle of the meeting because of his denial that Columbia police profile black residents.

The Columbia Police Officer Association represents over 90 percent of Officers and Sergeants in the Columbia Police Department.