Police union releases statement on former chief's arrest

Ken Burton is accused of DWI

Former Columbia Police Chief arrested

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The union that represents Columbia's sworn police officers released a statement Friday about the arrest of former police chief Ken Burton on suspicion of DWI.

Interim Columbia Police Chief Geoff Jones confirmed to ABC 17 News late Thursday that former Burton was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and was released on a summons.

Jones confirmed at 8:18 p.m. on Thursday a CPD DWI enforcement officer had probable cause to stop a vehicle on suspicion of driving while intoxicated at McBaine Avenue and Broadway. The driver, identified as Burton, was issued a minicipal summons for DWI and released.

Bill Tackett, attorney, said it is not unusual in cases like this one for police to issue a summons. 

"If you have an accident no. If they are completely obliverated no. But a garden variety DWI that is not uncommon," he said. 

Arrest reports from the Columbia Police Department also show Burton violated stop and yield signs.

The Columbia Police Officers' Association in its statement emailed Friday said the arrest of a private citizen usually doesn't generate a response from the union but Burton's former position gives this case a higher profile.

The union released the following statement:

Our Police Officers are highly trained professionals and every day, often under difficult or awkward circumstances, our officers are called upon to use their knowledge, skills, abilities, and years of experience to enforce the law. They enforce and apply the law uniformly and irrespective of whom the citizen may be.

The CPOA knows that Mr. Burton was accorded the same respect and legal rights as are afforded to any other citizen in our community.

As to his current situation, as we have said consistently and on countless other occasions, “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but no one is above the law.”

The union was a frequent critic of Burton and his leadership style while Burton was police chief.

The city did not release details on what the probable cause was for given Burton the summons or what evidence police gathered to suspect Burton of driving while intoxicated.

Tackett said he does not believe the department treated Burton's arrest differently than anyone else's.

"And I would bet the farm that the DWI unit in this case crossed every t, dotted every I, and just made absolutely certain that there was -- there's no perception of special treatment," he said. 

People living in the area of McBaine and Broadway, where Burton was arrested, said they saw the driver of a Jeep or SUV being arrested by Columbia police Thursday night. Burton owns a 2016 Jeep Wrangler, according to Boone County property tax records.

Burton resigned in December after interim City Manager John Glascock placed him on administrative leave earlier that month. He began working for the department in 2009. No reason has ever been given for placing him on leave, but Burton received two months of pay following his resignation. ABC 17 News reported in December that many people within and without the department felt uncomfortable with some of the accounts that Burton followed on his work Twitter account.

Sources tell ABC 17 News that Burton's case will likely go to municipal court. First-time DWI suspects are often referred to that court, the sources said, rather than county court.

It's unclear who drove Burton home from the scene of the traffic stop. 

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