Drug Policy

Atlanta Police Rediscover the Book

|

In the wake of the November drug raid that left 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston dead, "Atlanta police have virtually stopped seeking search warrants for drugs," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. In the six months since police killed Johnston, who grabbed a gun to defend herself against what she (correctly) thought was a criminal invasion, 19 drug warrants have been issued, compared to 125 in the six months preceding the raid. The number of "no knock" warrants dropped from 25 to zero during the same period. Two narcotics officers who lied to obtain the Johnston warrant pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and manslaughter, and others were demoted or suspended. While their replacements are being trained, Police Chief Richard Pennington has instructed officers to seek warrants "only in the biggest, most critical cases." Police continue to make drug arrests in response to complaints they receive or offenses they witness.

Pennington calls the dramatic drop in warrants a temporary lull. "Once the new narcotics team is put on the street, we are going to go right back into these areas that have a large concentration of drug activity," he said. "We are going to work with the community. But we are going to make sure they do everything by the book." With the FBI continuing to investigate search warrant practices in Atlanta, critics hope the police will continue to worry about the consequences of lying or otherwise cutting corners. "Now that they are being watched more closely and have to follow the law, they don't get many warrants," one defense attorney told the Journal-Constitution. "In the past, they basically had the ability to fabricate the information and get a warrant for it."

Radley Balko has written about the Johnston case herehere, and here, among other places.

[via The Drug War Chronicle]

Advertisement

NEXT: Price Gouging as Public Policy

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Police Chief Richard Pennington has instructed officers to seek warrants “only in the biggest, most critical cases.”

    i.e. the elderly under the age of 92.

  2. Pennington calls the dramatic drop in warrants a temporary lull.

    “Nothing to worry about folks. We’ll be back to kicking in your doors and shooting your grandmothers in no time!”

  3. “”We are going to work with the community. But we are going to make sure they do everything by the book.” ”
    I think he meant AGAINST THE COMMUNITY judging from their actions and mentality…

  4. They had to rediscover the book in order to throw it at people.

  5. You watch it, Lamar! The Book tells us how to handle things! You make hits. Somebody argues, you lean on ’em. What do you think, we’re stupid?”

  6. The good news is so good, I don’t want to bitch about the caveats.

    “Atlanta police have virtually stopped seeking search warrants for drugs,” … In the six months since police killed Johnston, … 19 drug warrants have been issued, compared to 125 in the six months preceding the raid. The number of “no knock” warrants dropped from 25 to zero during the same period.

    Virtually stopped my ass. It went from ‘Fourth Reich’ to ‘something close to appropriate’.

  7. This is great. Now we just have to hope that every community can catch their law enforcement officers murdering an old lady. Good times.

  8. Hmm…so a government agency has admitted a problem and is taking steps to correct it.

    This is pretty surprising, having read H&R for a while now I was under the impression that the government’s lust for killing old ladies for the hell of it could never be contained.

  9. How is a “temporary lull” in shooting old ladies “taking steps to correct [the problem]?”

  10. Damnit, I’ve been had.

  11. Dan T. | June 15, 2007, 2:10pm | #

    Hmm…so a government agency has admitted a problem and is taking steps to correct it.

    Dan, I failed to see the part wherein they said they were taking steps to correct the problem. They said they slowed down while new officers are being trained, but as soon as training is done they will go right back at it. As far as obtaining warrants properly, that’s only true until the FBI is off their back.

    Dan, if they had never been caught, no actions would be taken to correct it. They did not take it upon themselves to come clean.

  12. jimmy, dan is speaking truth to power. and by power i mean this blog comments section. and by truth i mean POWER.

  13. Dan T. | June 15, 2007, 2:10pm | #

    Hmm…so a government agency has admitted a problem and is taking steps to correct it.

    This is pretty surprising, having read H&R for a while now I was under the impression that the government’s lust for killing old ladies for the hell of it could never be contained.

    Dan, go fuck yourself.

  14. New team… Same tactics.. Why do I sense the same outcomes? Innocent people held at gun point or shot defending themselves for the same net outcome of the original purpose to reduce drugs, NADA.

    Good to kow the Atlanta cops are assuring their residents that soon enough they will be back on the streets and looking to violate constitutional rights in a neighborhood near you. Or in your house.

    Q? If cops can’t even get an address right how in the name of Herbert Hoover do they have any idea what laws are on the books and how they are to be enforced?

  15. If killing a younger woman could result in a permanent lull of the same magnitude, I’d br proud to give my life for my country.

  16. Okay, Dan T. was right. I was wrong. I’m sorry, I concede the point–I seriously do.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.