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Atlanta police misconduct could cost taxpayers another $200,000

Although the Atlanta Police Department's Red Dog Unit has been disbanded for several months now, the illegal actions of the unit involved in the controversial Atlanta Eagle raid and some of its officers are continuing — possibly — to cost taxpayers money.

On Tuesday, the Atlanta City Council's Public Safety Committee voted to pay $200,000 to two men who alleged they were strip searched on the side of the road in broad daylight by three former Red Dog officers. The full council will vote on the settlement on Aug. 15.

In January, the two men — Brian Kidd and Sean Venegas — described how they were stopped in Southwest Atlanta by three Red Dog officers on June 30, 2010, and were groped while a cavity search was also conducted in the middle of the street and in broad daylight. 

The officers said they were searching for drugs but no drugs were found.

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Atlanta Police works to erase ‘negative image’ among LGBT residents

The Atlanta Police Department sent in top brass to discuss the new APEX Unit that replaces the controversial Red Dog Unit as well as ways the department hopes to erase its bad reputation among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.

More than a dozen APD officers, including the LGBT liaisons and members of the new Community Orienting Policing Services unit, packed into Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse on Wednesday for a meet and greet that included a Q&A. The meeting was organized by Philip Rafshoon, owner of Outwrite and who is a member of the APD's LGBT Advisory Group. Several members of the advisory group were also in attendance.

Officers stressed they wanted to rebuild trust with the LGBT community that has eroded significantly since the unconstitutional raid on the Atlanta Eagle in 2009. The city settled a federal lawsuit in December  for more than $1 million with patrons of the bar the night it was raided. Also as part of the settlement, the APD must conduct an in-depth investigation into the raid to be completed by June.

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Atlanta police to disband controversial Red Dog Unit

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner

The Atlanta Police Department will disband its controversial Red Dog Unit in 60 days, Chief George Turner announced at a press conference this morning.

The paramilitary-style unit had come under scrutiny for its supporting role in the 2009 police raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar on Ponce de Leon Avenue, and recent complaints from two men that Red Dog officers — including two who also took part in the Eagle raid — subjected them to a strip search on a public street in broad daylight.

The Red Dog unit will be replaced by a new elite unit that has yet to be named, Turner said. The new unit will focus chiefly on violent crime, whereas the primary focus of Red Dog was street-level drug activity. Current Red Dog officers will have to apply to be part of the new unit, and will have to meet stringent standards including physical fitness and being free from any sustained complaints against them, Turner said.

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Mayor speaks out more about changes to Atlanta Police Department

Mayor Kasim Reed says there needs to be a change in the culture of the Atlanta Police Department after continuing complaints have been made against the controversial Red Dog Unit.

In an interview with WABE's Jim Burress, Reed said the future of the APD "may or may not include Red Dog."

Two men have alleged that three Red Dog Unit officers pulled them over and forced them to pull down their pants. The men also said they were fondled by the officers. Read the official complaints the two men filed here.