Some want Columbia police Chief Ken Burton to resign for “dismissing the community’s concerns about racial profiling problems”. A 2015 state report about traffic stops says that black drivers were three times more likely than white drivers to be pulled over last year by Columbia police.
Burton says the data conducted by the Missouri Attorney General’s office is flawed and doesn’t tell the whole picture.
“I’m sensitive to the fact that people may believe that they’ve been profile and maybe they actually have been. I’ll even go that far, but I can tell you that I find no evidence of it,” says Burton. “My opinion is that the data doesn’t go far enough. We need to collect a lot more data than we are collecting because we just collect the number of people that are stopped, what their race was and we stop there.”
Data analyst Tara Warne-Griggs says the report is clear. She says it summarizes the purpose of stops, location and actions of officers.
“Members of our community have repeatedly indicated that things are happening that they feel are unfair,” says Warne-Griggs.
Traci Wilson-Kleekamp of advocacy group “Race Matters, Friends” says Burton’s denial of racial profiling issues is unacceptable.
“We have a chief, who is paid well, denying the data. If you can’t come up with answers to that data, I think you should resign and find a job somewhere else,” says Wilson-Kleekamp.
Burton’s lawyer accuses Columbia mayor Brian Treece of trying to fire Burton. Attorneys from local firm Eng and Woods sent Treece a newly-leaked letter, saying they’ve heard he’s trying to get support from Columbia’s City Council to fire Burton. They argue that violates city charter. The letter ends by saying Burton would listen to settlement offers if the city wants him out.
Brad Tregnago and Hank Koebler of KSSZ contributed to this story.