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Before deletion, Columbia police chief followed suggestive Twitter accounts

Before deletion Columbia police chief...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - On the day interim Columbia City Manager John Glascock announced police Chief Ken Burton was suspended with pay, the chief's Twitter account suddenly disappeared.

The handle @ColumbiaMOChief, which Burton used since 2014, no longer appears as an active account on the social media platform.

Screenshots taken by ABC 17 News beforehand, however, show that the police chief followed a handful of sexually suggestive accounts. One of them, @jesswornpanties, markets itself as a resale shop for used underwear. Other accounts include bikini enthusiasts and former Playboy models. The accounts feature pictures of people who are either fully or partially nude.

Multiple sources have told ABC 17 News that they were made uncomfortable by Burton's social media activity. One female employee, who wished to remain anonymous to speak about concerns regarding her superior, said she found it difficult to address the situation with the chief.

The department's social media policy prohibits speech or content "that tends to compromise or damage the mission, function, reputation or professionalism of the Columbia Police Department or its employees." The policy also prohibits activity that would violate the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, which in part states, "I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all and will behave in a manner that does not bring discredit to me or my agency."

Only 11 of the 383 accounts Burton followed featured the suggestive content, according to an ABC 17 News review. Most of the accounts Burton followed were news personalities and other law enforcement agencies and personnel.

Multiple attempts to reach Burton went unanswered. Emails to his work address bounce back immediately, claiming the address is "disabled."

City spokesman Steve Sapp said he could not comment on any matter involving Burton due to ongoing personnel matters.

The city announced in a news release Thursday morning that Burton had been placed on paid administrative leave. CPD employees and city department heads were told of the decision in an email from interim city manager John Glascock. 

ABC 17 News contacted city council members about the decision to place Burton on leave. Mayor Brian Treece and Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas responded with statements supporting Glascock's leadership.

ABC 17 News reporter Sara Maslar-Donar and producer Patrick Lambdin contributed to this report.


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