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February 2007
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Radley Balko on Kathryn Johnston

Radley said it right…

Finally, a serious inquiry into Johnston’s death should take a critical, sweeping look at the fundamental nature of drug policing. The Atlanta Journal reported last month that a misguided focus on arrest numbers and stacking statistics have led to low morale, short-cutting, and conducting high-stakes raids resulting in paltry amounts of contraband. The lure of a big bust, as was promised by the real informant in the Johnston case (a suspect arrested on other charges who said police would find a kilogram of cocaine in Johnston’s home) can make a career, tempting officers to cut corners.
A proper look into Johnston’s death, then, wouldn’t end with the lying narcotics officers. It would include criticism of the entire culture of the city’s drug policing. It would include criticism not just of the police, but also of prosecutors and judges. It would reevaluate long-standing policies on the proper way to conduct a drug investigation. And it would ask tough questions about the goals, priorities, and very nature of drug policing.
To their credit, the Johnston family is calling for precisely that kind of sweeping review.

Read the whole thing.

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