Atlanta’s chief of police announced he’s disbanding the Red Dog drug unit as the department changes its focus to violent crime.
The reorganization came just a week after Channel Two Action News broke the story of serious allegations that members of the unit violated two men during a traffic stop.
Chief George Turner announced the changes on Monday morning, flanked by Mayor Kasim Reed.
Turner said he addressed 25 members of the Red Dog unit before the announcement. The new unit will consist of 50 officers. The Red Dog unit will dissolve in 60 days.
“This new unit will be a highly-trained, competent force.They will be second only to SWAT in training and tactical efficiency," Turner said.
Turner said the nautre of crime is different from when the Red Dog unit was formed in 1987. His goal is to change enforcement tactics and focus more on violent crime than drug enforcement.
“Crime – and the drug trade in particular – has gotten more sophisticated, often moving indoors,” Turner said. “We, too, have gotten smarter, using technology and intelligence-driven analysis to strategize and shift resources as needed. But let me be clear: That does not mean there still isn’t a need for aggressive, street-level crime-fighting -- there is.”
The new unit will consist of five segments, Turner said. The chief welcomed all Red Dog officers to apply for the new positions but added that there will be a very high standard with a strong focus on constitutional law when making arrests.
The mayor said there will be no tolerance for violent crimes in Atlanta. “You will not do violence in this city. It's not just drugs, it is harming anybody where you assault or cause the battery of someone. You will not put your hands on the people of this town,” said Reed.
Turner denied that recent issues with the Red Dog unit led to the changes, saying he started creating the new agency some time ago.
Just one week ago, Turner told Channel 2’s Eric Philips he had not made a decision to disband the Red Dog unit.
Philips was the first reporter to investigate the victims' claims and began piecing together the story after two men came forward and complained about possible officer misconduct during a June traffic stop on Fulton Street.
Atlanta police are currently conducting an internal investigation into the accusations.
Two of the three officers involved in the stop were also named in the infamous Atlanta Eagle bar raid that the city recently settled.
According to the department’s website, the Red Dog unit’s mission is to provide a police presence in areas where drug sales and drug-related activities are prevalent.
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