Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, faced with an aggressive Red Dog Unit and its tactics that set aside Constitutional protections, met with the officers on Friday to deliver the message “not so fast” on speculation he’s about to disband the force.
An Atlanta Police Department spokesperson confirmed on Monday that media reports that Turner would disband Red Dog in the wake of accusations that officers in the unit fondled and strip-searched men during a traffic stop aren’t accurate. At least not yet.
WABE reported Friday that Turner could disband Red Dog as soon as Monday. Turner told WSB earlier on Friday that he’s “not made that decision.” On Monday, WABE reported “significant” department changes could take place “soon.”
The Red Dog Unit was involved in the botched – and illegal – raid of the Eagle in September 2009. Two officers that took part in that raid, along with a third Red Dog member, allegedly took part in a June 2009 traffic stop in which they fondled the driver and passenger and forced them to drop their pants and spread their buttocks.
Turner hasn’t taken any action against officers involved in the Eagle raid, despite repeated calls to do so. But when the allegations about the inappropriate conduct during the traffic stop surfaced last week, Turner pulled the officers from the street and placed them on administrative duty during an internal investigation. That probe was launched in December and Turner told WSB Friday that “we’re very close to concluding the investigation.” An internal investigation into the Eagle raid has not been completed some 17 months later.
Atlanta police haven’t addressed questions about the disparate handling of the Eagle case and the traffic stop.