January 29, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Atlanta PD accused of using unconstitutional arrest quotas
Both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Georgia establish strong protections against unreasonable searches and arrests by law enforcement. However, for all of the rights these documents endow, they cannot prevent individual officers -- or even entire police departments -- from intentionally disregarding their rules.
Unfortunately, over the last several years, many Atlanta residents have been forced to learn this lesson the hard way. In January 2013, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta Police Department officers working in high-crime neighborhoods had been pressured to meet unconstitutional arrest quotas and to engage in other violations of individuals' constitutional rights.
The newspaper received its information from documents filed by ex-officers in a recent police misconduct lawsuit. That lawsuit claims that officers were rewarded with incentives including pizza or time off if they exceeded arrest goals. In its defense, the APD denied having arrest quotas, instead saying that it encouraged officers to meet "performance goals."
The officers, though, said they were reminded of their daily arrest quotas before starting each shift. Many worry that these quotas led officers to feel pressured to make arrests despite a lack of probable cause. The officers also claimed that they were encouraged to use unconstitutional tactics to make arrests, including subjecting suspects to public strip searches.
Quota victims come forward
A number of people have come forward to claim that they were victimized by the officers' unconstitutional behavior.
One man claimed that he was stopped by officers in the West End neighborhood in 2008. They searched him for drugs, and when they did not find any, they made him remove his pants and underwear in public and conducted a strip search. That search did not reveal any contraband, so the man was released without being arrested.
In another case, police are accused of lying to get a search warrant in a drug investigation in order to meet arrest quotas. They made mistakes during the raid, resulting in the shooting death of a 92-year-old woman. Arrest quotas are also blamed for a botched raid on an Atlanta gay bar in 2007.
These are just a few of the many complaints against Atlanta Police Department officers.
Working with a criminal defense attorney
While public safety is important, the rights safeguarded by the federal and state constitutions exist for a reason. No one should ever be forced to suffer the indignity that comes from having their rights violated by the police.
When constitutional violations do happen, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Evidence obtained in violation of the constitution can generally not be used at trial, meaning that criminal charges may sometimes be dismissed in light of unconstitutional police behavior.
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