Cleared police officer would like old job back

Saturday, April 21, 2007

CHAFFEE, Mo. -- A former police officer cleared of patronizing prostitution charges wants his old job back.

Daniel Ayers, 31, of Cape Gir?ardeau said Friday he wants to return to the Chaffee Police Department, where he worked as an officer for more than a year before chief Martin Keys fired him in January.

Within two weeks of his dismissal, Ayers was charged with four misdemeanor counts of patronizing prostitution after two Chaffee women told police he offered them cigarettes and cash if they would expose themselves to him or carry out sexual acts while he watched.

Ayers has maintained the charges were bogus and an attempt by police to keep him from exposing what he considered wrongdoings at the Chaffee Police Department.

Scott County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd said he dropped the charges Wednesday after the witnesses recanted their testimony.

Ayers said he wasn't surprised by either development, although he declined to comment Friday as to why the two women told police the story or why they recanted.

"The truth always comes out, and it did in this case," he said. "Faith in God and my family got me through this."

The father of three said losing his job hurt his family financially. After his arrest, he said, the publicity surrounding the case made it hard for him to find work.

"It took me a good two and a half months before I could find a job," he said. "When you're exploited like that on TV, and everybody knows, it makes it hard to find someone to hire you."

Had it not been for the support of his family and friends, Ayers said, things could have been a lot tougher. "We had to endure a lot of stress, heartache and financial problems," he said. "My family is tight with each other and we're going strong."

He works today hanging Sheetrock, a job he hopes to trade in for his old position. Ayers said he was a good police officer and had a good relationship with most in the department and the public.

"The reason I want to go back is that if there is corruption there, I want to help clean things up," he said.

Ayers said he has not spoken to Keys or the Chaffee City Council about returning to his position.

Keys and council members were unavailable for comment.

Charles Huey, a staunch supporter of Ayers, said Friday he'd like to see an investigation into the Chaffee Police Department undertaken by the Scott County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Huey, a Whitewater resident with strong Chaffee ties, said he's circulating a petition to remove Keys from his post that will be presented to the Chaffee City Council. He declined to say how many signatures he had collected Friday.

"I think the new city council members need to make a public apology to Daniel and offer his job back with severance pay," he said.

carel@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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