Tag Archives: Show-Me Institute

Burton’s Chickens Come Home To Roost

Last winter, when the Dresner/Haden extra-marital cop love affair came to light, I took a little heat from local progressive aficionado, Mark Haim, for both the tone of my blog and the assertions I made regarding the impact the affair may have had on the department. What Mr. Haim didn’t know is that many folks in the community knew about the affair and, upon hearing the story, the rest of us made an educated guess based upon the number of times the couple was seen together around town sharing knowing looks and furtive smiles. Certainly the investigative experts in the department came to the same conclusion.

I’ve blogged three times on the subject HERE and HEREand HERE

Now it appears that I may have been closer to the mark than even I myself thought. Brennan David over that the Columbia Tribune has reported that Haden has filed a complaint against Police Chief Burton alleging that he violated her privacy by disclosing her identity.

The Human Resources Department is reviewing the allegation, made by ex-department spokeswoman Jessie Haden in her Feb. 8 resignation letter in which she said Burton effectively “bartered” away her identity to a KOMU reporter to make an information request “go away.”

So what exactly is Burton hiding? Why not simply release the emails?

Read Haden’s letter of resignation HERE

Even old dirty Tom chimed in in defense of his honey:

Haden and Dresner — who still are a couple — say Burton was sympathetic to their situation at first, and they were “dumbfounded” by the chief’s decision to move Haden to patrol and release her name.

“There are certain actions that fall into the category of things a police chief just can’t do, or any public-sector official, for that matter,” Dresner said. “And that is causing a Sunshine request to go away with an exclusive interview for the media outlet that made the request, hours before everyone else was even notified.”

“While I make no claim as to my impartiality regarding the players, the way he did what he did to her is demonstrative of what he’s willing to do when he gets in a jam,” Dresner said.

Is this simply a pattern of CYA from Chief Burton?

A Tarrant County, Texas, grand jury declined to indict Burton on a complaint of abuse of official capacity in connection with an officer’s purchase of a motorcycle that later was determined to be for personal use. Burton fired the whistle-blower, but the person later was reinstated. Burton told the commission the whistle-blower was fired for an unrelated incident.

Perhaps a KCF sunshine request for those precious emails is in order.

Another interesting tidbit is the release of the Haden resignation letter to the media. There’s an anti-Burton rat somewhere in the department. It makes me wonder if it is the same person who sent the anonymous press release regarding the affair last December.

This trail of lies and deciet leading to the highest ranks in our police department casts a shadow of doubt on every piece of information the department presents to the public. The department has demonstrated their willingness to censor legitimate public comment in an open forum to keep their P.R. machine rolling. Remember, these are the public employees, armed with sub-machine guns and paid by our tax dollars, whom we are supposed to trust to protect and serve our community.

Something tells me this saga is far from over.

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“Safety Cameras” – My Letter to the City Council

Dear City Council,

Recently, plans for the deployment of surveillance cameras in Downtown Columbia were announced in answer to the ordinance approved by voters in the April 2010 election. According to CPD Lt. Chris Kelly, in a recent article in the Columbia Daily Tribune, the current plan is to make the cameras inconspicuous.

The ordinance reads:

Section 24-132 Sec. 24-132. Limitations on deployment and use of downtown safety cameras.

(a)    Downtown safety cameras may only be deployed so as to be conspicuous and only within the boundaries of the central business district, and may be in fixed or mobile locations.

Installing inconspicuous cameras designed to blend in with the surroundings is a direct violation of the ordinance.

Another alarming aspect of the original ballot initiative and current ordinance is the use of the term “Safety Cameras.” The ballot language did not define “Safety Camera” while the ordinance attempts to. The ordinance defines “Downtown safety cameras” as “any digital recording surveillance system installed in an open and obvious manner by the City of Columbia to film public streets, sidewalks or alleys within the boundaries of the central business district.”

Equating surveillance with safety is problematic without empirical evidence that surveillance actually provides safety. While there are piles of empirical evidence indicating that surveillance cameras provide no level of safety, there is not one single shred of empirical evidence supporting the claim that surveillance cameras provide safety. The use of this language to influence voters is unforgivable. To legitimize the equating of surveillance with safety by defining it as such in our city’s code of ordinances is certainly misleading and ultimately frightening. There is no such thing as a “Safety Camera” regardless of how it is defined by our city government.

For these reasons I urge you to take immediate action to stop this egregious waste of public funds while there is still time.

Sincerely,

Mark Flakne

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Citizens For Justice Just Went Live

Check out the new Citizens For Justice website.  I recently met the good folks behind this site and when I heard what they were up to, I was intrigued to say the least. Their new watchdog website is impressive. Make your way to the Intelligence page and dig in. They’ve compiled a database so comprehensive the CPD will likely start using it for their own research if the CPOA doesn’t find a way to shut it down first.

Keep an eye on this site. It looks like there are good things to come.

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It’s Link Time

Check out this interesting blog post and video put together by Larry and Carl over at United For Missouri. It seems reasonable to me that the City of St. Louis should have control of their own police department. The state controls their police now and their police aren’t doing a great job fighting crime. But wait, it’s all about the cop pensions. Who cares if you get murdered?

Why do cities continue to spend our tax dollars paying bad cops? Radley Balko takes on the question in this interesting piece at Reason.com.

Columbia’s own Citizen Police Review Board has agreed to hold a public meeting to discuss the local police policyon serving search warrants. In little ol’ Columbia, every search warrant is served by the SWAT team who kicks in the door wearing Kevlar ninja suits and swinging MP5 sub machine guns. That might be alright when searching for an armed murderer, but what about folks who are suspected of non-violent crimes? John Payne of the Show-Me Institute has already agreed to address the board. Getting Radley Balko here to talk to the board might be a game changer. If anything, the board members should all read Balko’s white paper on the use of SWAT, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.

Keep Columbia Free wholeheartedly endorses Mitch Richards as a candidate for Columbia’s First Ward City Council seat. Check out the local coverage of the first candidate forum of the season.  The Missourian coverage seems to be a bit more in depth than The Tribune, but The Trib has been known post their stories early and update throughout the day.

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New Columbia Police SWAT Video

Our friends at The Show-Me Institute obtained this video of a Columbia Police Department S.W.A.T. raid that took place in 2008. This raid took place before the era of Police Chief Ken Burton and the S.W.A.T. reforms he instituted following the famous botched raid on Kinloch Ct.

The first four minutes is footage of the police driving to the location of the raid, so hang on. 

 

A couple of things stand out.

Chief Burton admitted that mistakes were made during the lead up to the famous Feb. 2009 Kinloch Ct raid. Those mistakes included a lack of surveillance that would have alerted the officers to the presence of a young child in the home. 

In this new video, several young children are present. Was a lack of surveillance to ensure the safety of children standard operating procedure and not a “mistake” for the CPD prior to Chief Burton’s policy changes?

There is a very telling statement made at the 7:30 mark in the video. The officer is in the bathroom with an extremely docile and confused elderly woman when he says, “We’re just going to put you in handcuffs for right now just so we can control you.”  He then handcuffs the old woman.

I’m not suggesting that this officer violated any policy, but handcuffing an innocent old woman simply to “control” her sends chills up my spine.

Thankfully, Chief Burton has taken some baby steps toward S.W.A.T. reform, but paramilitary police raids on family homes take place all over the country, every day. In that context, his baby-steps seem giant.

I recommend you read Radley Balko’s white paper, “Overkill.”  Balko is the nation’s foremost expert on paramilitary S.W.A.T. raids.

Thanks to the folks over at Americans for Forfeiture Reform for their help with this video.

Mark Flakne

***UPDATE***

Erica Warren over at COMOCITIZENS has located the warrant and the accompanying Tribune story regarding this raid. This was a narcotics search warrant served at 1002 Madison, Columbia.

Here is a picture of the address from Google.

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