By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ATLANTA, Ga. — Atlanta's police chief is replacing the entire narcotics unit that was scandalized last fall by the shooting death of a 92-year-old woman during a drug raid.
The narcotics unit's training standards also will be rewritten to adopt federal drug agency practices, and 14 investigators are being added this month, with the goal of a new staff of 30 by the end of the year, Police Chief Richard Pennington announced Tuesday.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., right, accompanied by Alex White, a police informant, meets reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 3, 2007, to discuss the death of Kathryn Johnston, an elderly Atlanta woman who died during a police raid. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
A lieutenant with experience in the department's office of professional standards, William Trivelpiece, will be taking over leadership of unit, he said.
''With new initiatives on the way to help restore confidence in the unit, we felt it important to start anew,'' Pennington said.
The narcotics unit faced heavy criticism after the Nov. 21 shooting death of Kathryn Johnston. Three officers had burst into her home with a no-knock warrant based on false information that an informant had purchased drugs at the house.
In court papers released when state and federal charges were filed last month against the officers involved, prosecutors alleged that Atlanta narcotics officers repeatedly lied to judges to obtain search warrants, falsely claimed confidential informants purchased drugs and falsified warrants to meet goals set by police brass.
Two of the officers involved in the raid have pleaded guilty to manslaughter and other charges and are awaiting sentencing. Another officer still faces charges.
The remaining narcotics unit officers will be given other positions within the police department as part of the overhaul, spokesman James Polite said Wednesday. ''Everyone is being replaced,'' he said.
Overall, Pennington announced more than 140 police personnel changes Tuesday, including a number of key promotions, transfers and major changes in top leadership.
The leadership changes include swapping command of field operations and criminal investigations and appointing new heads of internal affairs and major crimes investigation.
The Atlanta Police Department has more than 2,300 officers and civilian employees in a city of 480,000.