Law Enforcement: Atlanta Cops Try to Gut Civilian Review Board Created After 92-Year-Old Woman Killed in Drug Raid

Faced with public outrage and revulsion in the wake of the November 2006 killing of Kathryn Johnston, 92, in a drug raid that turned out to have no basis, Atlanta city officials created a Citizen Review Board to try to rein in law enforcement abuses. But now, just as the Review Board is getting up and running, the Atlanta Police Department and the city's Law Department are seeking to significantly weaken its ability to investigate police misconduct.

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How soon they forget...
On Tuesday, the APD and the Law Department introduced legislation to amend city law regarding how the board investigates complaints about police. The city law establishing the board gives it "full access" to police reports and documents. But now, police are asking that the law be amended to allow them to turn over only documents and other information that are public record. Public records documents are typically minimal while a police investigation is ongoing.

If the move is approved, it would allow police to withhold most information from the Civilian Review Board until any internal police investigations have been completed. But if Tuesday's city Public Safety Committee meeting, where the changes were broached, is any indication, the cops may have a fight on their hands.

While APD Major Lane Hagin, who heads internal affairs and led the effort to weaken the board, was present, he did not speak during the meeting. The opposition to the changes was not so reticent. State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) and Rod Edmond, the secretary for the board, both denounced the proposed changes.

"In effect, it would defang the Citizen Review Board and make it nothing more than a paper tiger," Fort said in remarks reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Edmond described the proposed changes as "ridiculous" and "insulting." If the amendment passes, he said, the board would be like sports events referees trying to do their job wearing blindfolds.

While Major Hagin did not address the meeting, he told the Journal-Constitution he feared the Civilian Review Board did not have the experience or resources to conduct investigations. He worried that the review board would "rush to judgment" without all the facts, he said. "For us, I think it's better if we do our investigation in a reasonable period of time and then turn it over to them," he said. "At the end of the day, I think the board is going to be impressed with the kind of work the internal affairs unit does."

While the four city council members present at the committee meeting did not offer opinions on the proposal, one of them said he had heard frustrated board members were considering resigning. He urged them not to. "Just tell them to, please, stay in place," Martin told Edmond. "I want them to have faith in the process."

It will be up to the city council to see if the process deserves such faith.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Atlanta Civilian Review Board

Major Hagin is worried that the review board would "rush to judgment" without all the facts. His ludicrous solution - Give them less information. They have to start giving these law enforcement imbeciles IQ tests.

atlanta georgia

will burn again if police are not brought under control .people are sick and tired of nazi rule its that simple .word from citzens stay out of our homes stop murdering our elderly .or face the power of the people

Atlanta Civilian Review Board

Sounds like the Atlanta Police are following in the footsteps of Bush & Co with its Unitary Executive Theory.

Don't let the people get involved, the Police have it all under control and know what's best.

Secret Police

Both sides have valid arguments. Some civilian review boards are little more than grandstanding launch sites for local political careers. But some police depts. are little more than local gestapo units.

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