Atlanta police Chief Richard Pennington announced last week that the narcotics unit will increase in size from 16 officers to 30, and that all officers in the department will be drug-tested. The overhaul comes almost five months after a botched drug raid led to the police shooting of 88-year-old Kathryn Johnston. The restructuring comes three years after a study by Linder & Associates – which cost $847,000 – recommended similar changes.
"The manpower of the Narcotics Unit will be significantly increased and will focus on mid and upper level drug distributors. ... One Narcotics Team will be assigned to each Zone with a minimum of one supervisor, eight investigators, and two undercover officers as soon as personnel become available."
-- Recommendations from the 2004 study by Linder & Associates
"We cannot effectively control narcotics in the city of Atlanta with the number of narcotics people we have right now. It's a shame that it's gotten to this point. ... The shortcomings were well-defined in the Linder report. ... [The chief] has done some significant changes in other units, based on that report, but nothing was done in the narcotics unit. ... It's ugly."
-- Sgt. Scott Kreher, president of the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, to CL during a phone interview in March
"I think a lot of times, some of these things could have been avoided."
-- Pennington, in reference to the botched drug raid as he announced the changes in the drug unit