Red Dog drug task force disbanded after civil rights violations complaints

The infamous Red Dogs, a drug task force unit of the Atlanta Police Department, have been disbanded following repeated accusations that Red Dog officers violated civil rights during arrested, using excessive force and performing illegal searches and seizures during drug raids.

Mayor Reed announced that he was dissolving the unit last Monday and replacing it with a high-tech unit with nearly double the number of police officers to prevent and solve crimes. The mayor said that he made this decision after months of thought and planning to re-tool the Red Dog unit, a task force that was notorious for strong-arm tactics against criminals and suspected drug dealers. The change came after the City of Atlanta had to settle civil rights claims for over $1 million following a particularly violent raid in December 2009.

Many residents of the Old Fourth Ward cheered the announcement. While the Red Dogs’ “in-your-face” tactics may have driven drug dealers underground, their roughshod and sometimes unconstitutional methods ultimately turned many community members against the Red Dogs.

Other residents claimed that drug dealing would rise now that the Red Dog unit has been disbanded.

Regardless, the mayor and the police chief have emphasized that the new drug task force unit must be made up of police officers that respect the Constitution and Atlanta residents’ constitutional rights. Criminal defense lawyers are behind the Red Dog disbandment, hoping that clients charged with drug conspiracy, drug distribution, drug possession and other drug charges may have fairer trials, no matter how their criminal charges arose.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, “Red Dog disbanded,” Steve Visser and Marcus K. Garner, February 7, 2011