The fallout continued among local law enforcement agencies Wednesday after 10 metro Atlanta police officers were charged with taking bribes in exchange for protecting drug dealers.
Federal indictments said the officers were in their patrol cars wearing their uniforms, with their department-issued guns in plain sight, as drug dealers flooded the streets of Atlanta with cocaine.
"When the cooperator put the word out on the street that he needed dirty cops to protect his drug deals, he got a lot of takers from police officers all across town," said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates.
"Remarkably, one of the police officers actually suggested that future drug deals be conducted in the parking lot of a local high school so they could exchange backpacks there, and that exchange of backpacks wouldn't be something that caused suspicion," Yates explained during a news conference Tuesday.
Yates said DeKalb County police Officers Dennis Duren and Dorian Williams, Forest Park police Sgts. Victor Middlebrook and Andrew Monroe, Atlanta police Officer Kelvin Allen , Stone Mountain police Officer Denoris Carter, MARTA police Officer Marquez Holmes, former DeKalb County Sheriff's Office jail Officers Monyette McLaurin and Chase Valentine and Federal Protection Services contract Officer Sharon Peters were arrested Tuesday.
DeKalb County Sheriff Tom Brown said he was concerned two of his former deputies were arrested and may have been wearing official uniforms and carrying real badges, despite the fact they had not worked for the sheriff's office for years.
"It is a concern if that badge is still out there and he's using it for illegal activity," said Brown.
He said he is working with the U.S. Attorney's Office to obtain more details.
"You're supposed to turn in shirt for shirt, pants for pants," said Brown. "That's not always followed to the letter."
Yates said the officers took thousands in payouts for their work with single transactions anywhere from a few thousand dollars to as high as $7,000.
"This is a troubling day for law enforcement in our city. The law enforcement officers charged today sold their badges by taking payoffs from drug dealers that they should have been arresting," Yates said. "They not only betrayed the citizens they were sworn to protect, they also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe. We will continue to work with our local law enforcement partners to pursue this corruption wherever it lies."
The officers were charged with numerous crimes including assisting with drug trafficking, receiving illegal payouts and using firearms during the commission of a crime.
Allen is a 20-year veteran with the Atlanta Police Department. The Zone 6 patrol officer was immediately removed from duty following his arrest.
"It is absolutely horrendous," said Atlanta police Chief George Turner. "If you look at this man you would never think he would do anything like this. We will not stand for any officers stepping on the other side of the law."
Turner said another officer who has been on the force for three years is also under investigation by federal agents for using his position as an officer to protect drug dealers. The officer's name was not released because Turner said the federal indictment has been sealed.
Investigators said McLaurin went so far as to suggest shooting another drug purchaser if the deal went awry.
Brown said his department is now launching an investigation into how McLaurin and Valentine kept their uniforms and gained access to new badges or still had their old ones.
Five other people were arrested in connection with the case, including Elizabeth Coss and Shannon Bass of Atlanta, Gregory Lee Harvey of Stone Mountain, Alexander B. Hill of Ellenwood and Jerry B. Mannery Jr. of Tucker.
"We've always been transparent," said Brown. We've always cleaned our own house. We're always about doing what we do best and that's protect and serve."