Skip to Content

Columbia council members weigh in on call for Chief Burton to resign

Some residents of Columbia are calling for Police Chief Ken Burton to resign–and now, a number of City Council members are weighing in on the controversy.

The group, “Race Matters, Friends,” was engaged in a heated debate at Monday night’s Columbia City Council meeting after a report from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office provides disparity data that shows black people are three more times likely to be pulled over than whites.

Chief Burton has maintained the data doesn’t necessarily show racial profiling, but he has failed to provide any data that shows otherwise.

In light of the controversy, ABC 17 News reached out Mayor Brian Treece, as well as all six Columbia City Council members. Not all of them replied, but the general consensus was that the reports do need to be addressed.

“I think it’s one data point that’s sobering and we have to look at but we do have lots of other data points as the chief referenced,” Councilman Michael Trapp said, adding, “But I think that the chief owes it to the community to provide a better rationale.”

Councilman Ian Thomas agreed, saying the chief can’t claim the data is flawed “without providing any evidence that racial profiling does not occur in Columbia.”

Likewise, Councilwoman Laura Nauser acknowledged the data doesn’t necessarily show the full story and said there needs to be a meeting between police and the community.

This comes on the heels of a report from the Columbia Police Officer’s Associations that shows low morale with the Columbia Police Department–an issue Councilman Thomas called a “crisis for the city.”

“So we’ve reached a point now where the activist community is disappointed in his [Chief Burton’s] performance and a large majority of the patrol officers are disappointed in his performance,” Trapp said before acknowledging that Burton has been put in a tough position.

“I’m sympathetic to him because I feel like he’s truly caught in a rock and a hard place,” Trapp said. “I think we’ve placed him in a very difficult position without providing adequate resources.”

Last night, Chief Ken Burton said he was open to a meeting to discuss the disparity reports. ABC 17 News reached out to a public information officer with the Columbia Police Department, who said, to her knowledge, that offer is still on the table.

(Editor’s note: This story was written before ABC 17 News received a copy of a letter sent to Mayor Treece, which suggests Chief Burton is willing to resign under the right conditions.)

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

ABC 17 News Team


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content