There's an interesting op-ed piece in Creative Loafing today written by an Atlanta Police Department detective who calls on supervisors to provide mentoring to young officers in light of a string of controversies facing the APD.
Det. Ken Allen, president of the Atlanta Police Union (International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 623), writes in CL that recent accusations against APD officers violating the constitutional rights of citizens are "isolated incidents that are few and far between in comparison to the normal law enforcement behaviors of Atlanta police officers."
While the Atlanta Eagle raid happened more than a year ago, this raid and the officers' behavior were ruled by a federal judge as definite violations of the constitutional rights of the patrons in the bar who were forced to lay on the floor among spilled beer and broken glass while the paramilitary Red Dog Unit illegally searched and detained them. No patrons were charged in the raid and the city eventually settled a federal civil lawsuit in December for more than $1 million.
APD detective calls on supervisors to provide guidance in light of recent controversies
Then there was the story of three Red Dog Unit officers who allegedly strip searched two men in the middle of the road during a traffic stop, stating they were searching for drugs. No drugs were found. Days later, Chief George Turner said the controversial Red Dog Unit would be disbanded in 60 days.
But Det. Allen stresses in his piece that in his 25 years of experience he has never had a problem abiding by the constitution and adds that officers are mandated to take training regarding citizens’ constitutional rights.
Allen then goes on to make an interesting point:
“If, for some reason, a breakdown in proper law enforcement conduct is found, then we need to consider the possible reasons. First, have recruiting standards been compromised? Do current applicants have a passion for law enforcement, or are they simply trying to get a job in these tough economic times? Second, are recruits receiving sufficient training and education in criminal procedures and constitutional law? Have the training standards changed or diminished in any way? Finally, and perhaps most important, are the supervisors experienced and adequately trained, and do they interact effectively with officers in the field?”
Holding supervisors accountable is a must as has been cited by the Atlanta Citizen Review Board and as part of the settlement agreement with the Eagle. It’s a question that must be answered eventually. The CRB has also pointed out repeatedly the problems within the APD are systemic — and not only isolated incidences.
But as CL points out in its cover story this week, the Atlanta Citizen Review Board is getting no help from the police in its job to oversee citizen complaints against officers.
The Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory group continues to seek ways to strengthen the department’s relationship with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But members, too, feel the department is not doing enough to deal with the controversies — specifically concluding its investigation into the Eagle raid that has gone on for nearly a year and a half.