Since the story broke regarding the Dresner/Haden illicit affair, some have made the argument that Dresner and Haden are the only ones at fault. While it is true that both Dresner and Haden are to blame for their extramarital coworker coitus, it is important to take a look at how the situation was handled by Chief Burton.
One important fact that is often left out of the discussion is that Haden was married to a cop. Not only was she married to a cop, she was married to a cop who was serving under the leadership of her lover, Deputy Chief Tom Dresner. So Dresner was sleeping with a subordinate and the wife of a subordinate. Not only did Dresner oversee the promotion of his lover, he was literally sending the husband of his lover into situations where he was literally asked to put his life on the line. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence can see the problem with this situation.
Since Haden and her husband did not share a last name, I’m going to let his identity remain a secret for those who do not already know. The guy has been humiliated enough by his former wife and his chief. If you must satisfy your curiosity, it’s a matter of public record. Look it up.
Imagine how Haden’s cop husband must feel. His boss, Deputy Chief Tom Dresner, is sleeping with his wife right under the nose of Chief Burton and when Burton is forced to take action by Dresner’s wife, all he does is ask Dresner to resign. I guess we don’t have to look to far to know who sent the anonymous press release regarding Burton’s handling of the affair. And let’s not forget that a copy of Haden’s resignation letter was also sent to the media anonymously. Suffice it to say that there are those among the ranks of the CPD who want Burton gone.
What this boils down to is that there is at least one – and more likely several – Columbia police officer(s) who have lost faith in Chief Burton. If he refuses to punish his right hand man, Dresner, for sleeping with your wife, does he really have your back on the street?
As the Tribune story points out, Burton is no stranger to controversy. While in Texas, he was embroiled in some unsavory investigations into his actions and the actions of his department.
During Columbia’s vetting of candidates for chief that eventually settled on Burton, concerned citizen Tracy Greever-Rice, did her homework on the candidates and found a great deal of information on Burton. She points out that we may be seeing a pattern now that was ignored during the search. Greever-Rice told KCF:
Ken definitely has a charismatic personality. He interviews well, and people tend to like him personally (including me). However, he has a pretty solid pattern of having things work out the way they seem to be headed here. With just a little research, we could have avoided what will likely prove to be an expensive mistake of having to run a new search for a police chief in the relatively near future.
I certainly agree with her assessment of Chief Burton’s personality. He seems like the kind of guy you’d want to set down and have a beer with. Heck, it almost pains me to critique his work until I remember that he is a public official in charge of a public police department paid with public funds. Public scrutiny goes with the territory.
Here is an excerpt from Tracy Greever-Rice’s email to a member of the selection committee:
In the links below are info regarding three firings and a demotion made by Burton. Two fired officers were reinstated and the demotion was reversed (which could certainly in & of itself be interpreted as reason to question his judgment). Conversely, two other officers, both of which shot and killed dogs – one of whom shot at yet another dog but instead hit a person, was twice caught beating people up, and also caught driving drunk – were disciplined for these incidents but not fired. I think this is worthwhile information for Columbians to consider: Do these decisions by Burton reflect our community’s values?
So let’s take a look at some of the information Tracy Greever-Rice uncovered early in 2009 and shared with the selection committee.
Some of what she found has now been archived and is only available for a fee. If you are interested in taking a look at these archived sources, visit the Star-Telegram archive and search for “Police Chief Ken Burton”. You’ll be able to read the first few paragraphs of each story without paying.
Here are some of the stories that are still available for free…
The Tribune article mentions an incident regarding the purchase of a motorcycle while Burton was chief in Haltom City in Tarrant County, Texas. From what I can tell, the story goes like this. Burton wrote a letter to Harley Davidson on behalf of one of his officer buddies assuring Harley Davidson that a soon to be purchased motorcycle would be used for police business. This helped save the officer nearly $4000 because Harley offers a special deal for law enforcement motorcycles. The motorcycle was actually intended for personal use and was never used for police work. Another officer, Eric Chambliss, blew the whistle on the fraud which triggered an investigation by the Texas Rangers. During the investigation, Burton claimed he didn’t remember signing such a letter and the letter was never produced for the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury refused to indict Burton based on lack of evidence. After the ruling, the letter signed by Burton surfaced. Burton later fired the whistle blower, Eric Chambliss, for “disrupting the workplace”, a charge unrelated to the whistle blowing. The city then overturned the firing of Chambliss and reinstated him.
So it’s OK to steal nearly $4000 from Harley Davidson, but not OK to steal a soda?
And it appears that Burton is was no stranger to controversial firings being overturned. Read about it HERE
He also left some work in Bryan, Texas after some strange personnel decisions.
More on Burton’s personnel decisions HERE
Greever-Rice even found precedent for Chief Burton’s acceptance of “Puppycide” (a term coined by Radley Balko). In an incident that will seem strangely familiar to folks who have followed the Kinloch Ct. incident in Columbia, Burton’s officers in Haltom City were cleared of wrong doing after they shot an obese Jack Russell terrier after kicking in the door of a residence. The story goes on to tell of another incident under Burton’s watch where one of his officers missed the dog and shot a man in the legs. It appears that under Burton’s leadership, when it comes to dogs, the rule is shoot first and ask questions later even when the dog is an ankle-biting Jack Russell terrier.
Here are a list of links regarding Burton’s tenure in Texas.