After I covered the murder trial of Columbia’s former Water and Light director, James Kraig Kahler, I began reporting on the Columbia Police Department. Early in the semester, veteran officer Rob Sanders was fired from the department for using excessive force against a prisoner in a holding cell. That incident sparked a battle between an old guard of police officers resisting changes Police Chief Ken Burton and others were trying to make, specifically in the way officers were trained and how they acted when responding to calls and investigating. The bulk of my reporting focused on the Sanders case.
My editor and I began speculating about the subject of a news conference one of the department’s public information officers had mentioned. I looked into possible issues the conference could be covering, and that investigation resulted in this story.
The department sent out a news release about the findings of an audit of its firearms. This was the first time I interviewed Burton, and it set the stage for quite a few future stories.
A news conference brought the speculation to an end; Burton had fired a veteran officer for using excessive force against a prisoner in a holding cell.
As soon as I was able to report further information on the man, Kenneth Baker, and the fired officer, Rob Sanders, I wrote an update to the original story. The firing prompted a public battle between supporters of the fired officer, Rob Sanders, and Burton’s backers, which I continued to cover over the course of the semester. Here are the clips from what happened next:
Unrelated to the Sanders case Just for fun, I headed out to an alpaca farm to cover an open house where families could pick apples and pet alpacas.