Assistant Police Chief Who Oversaw the Kathryn Johnston Raid Is Up for a Promotion


Shortly after the Kathryn Johnston raid, Assistant Atlanta Police Chief Alan Dreher sprang into action to defend the actions of his police officers. Less than 24 hours after the raid, before there had been any real investigation, Dreher assured the public that there was nothing to see, here. The police had made a controlled buy at Johnston's home, Dreher said. They arrived at her house in a marked car, and came in in marked uniforms. Johnston shot at the officers, Dreher said. He later added that Johnston "should have recognized" the men breaking into her home as police officers. The cops returned fire only in self-defense, he said. Dreher even suggested that it was a police officer, not an informant, who bought the drugs from Johnston (as it turns out, no one did, the controlled buy was a lie).

Police defenders and critics of mine were quick to jump on Dreher's statements to show that I and others were "jumping the gun" for questioning the raid. After all, if the police said they did a buy, they did a buy. If the police say they announced, then they announced. If the police inferred that this 92-year-old woman was a dope dealing criminal who got what she deserved, well, then she sure as hell got what she deserved.

We now know that just about everything Dreher said was wrong. Dreher was presiding over a corrupt narcotics unit that routinely lied on search warrant affidavits, harassed and intimidated informants, covered up mistakes, and was subject to damaging arrest and raid quotas that encouraged shortcuts and circumventing the checks in place to ensure the protection of civil rights. It was Dreher who spoke too soon, propagating the lie told to him by his officers that Johnston was some sort of dope-slinging, gun-toting granny.

Dreher was acting as spokesman just after the raid because Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington was out of town. When Pennington returned, he quickly dispensed with Dreher's clannish, old-school, blue-wall-of-silence approach. Pennington was more forthcoming, and quickly announced he'd be conducting a thorough internal investigation. Within days, Pennington turned the investigation over to federal authorities. We now know that Johnston was innocent, that there was no drug buy, and that Johnston didn't even get off a shot. The cops were wounded by fragments from their own bullets. When they found out they had made a mistake, the narcotics team handcuffed Johnston and left her to bleed to death in her own home while they planted marijuana in her basement.

I bring all of this up because you'd think that Dreher would have been fired. At minimum, as APD's chief of operations, Dreher presided over an astonishingly rogue and unaccountable narcotics department that put who knows how many innocent people in jail, and subjected who knows how many people to mistaken and botched drug raids. He was either oblivious to all of the corruption, or he was complicit in it. Neither speaks well of him as a police manager, or as a leader. Dreher then helped disseminate an ass-covering version of the Kathryn Johnston raid that proved to be wrong in just about every way possible. Dreher's early press statements were not only rash and wrong-headed defenses of his poorly-trained and poorly-disciplined narcotics officers, in the process he also sullied the name of the innocent woman his officers had just killed.

But Dreher didn't lose his job. In fact, he's now one of four finalists for the police chief position in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He's up for a promotion. And this isn't even the first time. He was also a finalist for police chief in Charlotte, North Carolina.

NEXT: No Child Left Behind

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  1. Chesapeake just hired a new police chief, I’m surprised he didn’t apply there.

  2. God Bless America

  3. Who else can Atlanta rely on to keep control of the violent 80+ year old demographic?

  4. Is law enforcement in the United States irreparable?

    Why,or why not?

  5. OMFG. You cannot make crap like that up.

  6. Is law enforcement in the United States irreparable?

    Yes, it is. But two things have to happen first. One is that the federal government needs to get out of the war on drugs, and let each state handle it as they will, and allocate their budgets according to how much of a priority it is (in other words, there will be more money spent on it in UT as opposed to CA).

    The other thing would have to follow my above statement, and that would that police would have to stop thinking of themselves as clergymen with billyclubs just trying to do what’s best for us, for the children, etc.

  7. I’m sorry, that first statement should have said “No, it isn’t.”

  8. Is law enforcement in the United States irreparable?

    Why, or why not?

    Of course it is. It would just take a revolution (at the very least, of an electoral/legislative sort) to accomplish.

    There are a few easy things that could be done, policy wise, to help. Establish citizen review boards with real authority. Divert revenue from tickets and fines away from any part of the justice system. Base promotion and review on conviction percentage rather than number of convictions. Dial down the armaments and the military tactics. Comply with information requests. Investigate *before* commenting to press. Break the power of the professional policeman’s union. Beef up IADs. Tone down narcotics and vice units.

    This would have to be coupled with the federal gov’t stopping its inane incentivization of many of the worst behaviors of police officers with narcotics and SWAT grants to cities and local township PDs.

  9. That should be, of course, “Of course it is [reparable].”

  10. Judges could help by not pissing on the 4th Amendment at every available opportunity.

  11. police would have to stop thinking of themselves as clergymen with billyclubs

    I have to strongly disagree. I see no sign that police think of themselves as “clergymen”, despite any lecturing they might do while wielding their billyclubs. The police talk and act like nothing so much as the mafia. They don’t give a shit what’s best for us, they know what’s best for them. And since us isn’t them, anything they to do to us is fine as long as it benefits them.

  12. In fairness, law enforcement in both Winston-Salem and Charlotte are pretty bad at planting drugs on innocent people in order to cover up their shootings. Dreher can help them fix that.

  13. Nothing demonstrates more clearly than the War on Drugs that government is nothing but a legitimized mafia.

    And no, you can’t fix the police.

  14. Radley:
    I bring all of this up because you’d think that Dreher would have been fired.

    Great report Braley, but we can see the cosmotarian mindset coming through.

    You act like you don’t know how it works. Criminals get promoted in the government! That is how we get mass killers running things! It wasn’t just a defect in the German character or a defect in Cambodians who allowed Pol Pot to kill millions. Evil people really are running things and the evil people at teh top reward the most evil at the bottom.

    Why do you trust Donald Rumsfeld more than Ray Mcgovern? McGovern is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. He was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of them. He says we need war crime prosecutions, he says 9/11 may have been an inside job and the following coverup is grounds for impeachment.

  15. Assistant Police Chief Who Oversaw the Kathryn Johnston Raid Is Up for a Promotion

    Obviously this is outrageous, but the headline makes it sound like he’s up for a higher position in Atlanta itself, which is not the case. Leaving your current job and getting a better job elsewhere isn’t usually referred to as a “promotion”.

  16. Winston-Salem is just chock-full of college kids smoking dope. This should be good.

  17. I see Gabe’s gone off his meds again.

  18. It’s that “new professionalism”!

  19. “Winston-Salem is just chock-full of college kids smoking dope.”
    And the fucking Moravians need to be taken down a peg or two, too.

  20. It’s true that under government employ the crap rises to the top fastest. The most inept, worthless incompetent people get promoted since no one gets fired. Promote them up and out and make them someone elses problem to deal with till they to want them gone and they get another promotion. Its a the Peter Principle on these fools are already petered out from day 1, so its peter principle to the tenth power. From school systems to police departments it is chronic in state and federal agencies.

    What I always wonder about these particular types of deals where the cops planted drugs is where do they get their drugs and were they charged with any drug crimes in addition to any other crimes? Are we to believe every cop car has a QP in the truck just waiting to be dropped on someone for a false arrest. That is what I take from what happened in Atl. They just ran out to the car and got some weed no big deal. Seems like they would be up for some drug charges since I see no other reason why cops would have weed in their cars unless they are dealers. Thats what they would say if it was your car with the weed in it after all.

  21. One would think that North Carolina would be more careful of hiring someone like this after the Duke case. The citizens should be made aware that this guy could cost them some serious tax dollars in lawsuits down the road.

  22. Does anyone have a link that claims marijuana was planted, she didn’t get a shot off, etc?

  23. Bobby: ever heard of Google?

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