Pubdate: Thu, 28 Oct 2004
Source: Amarillo Globe-News (TX)
Copyright: 2004 Amarillo Globe-News
Author: Greg Cunningham
Bookmark: (Tulia, Texas)


The commander of the narcotics task force that supervised the
controversial 1999 Tulia drug bust will soon retire, leaving the
Amarillo narcotics unit that replaced the task force under new management.

Lt. Mike Amos will end his career with the Amarillo Police Department
on Friday, leaving behind a decades-long record of service that
supervisors characterized as excellent. That service is marred,
however, by the controversy surrounding the Tulia drug bust, which

operated under Amos' supervision.

"Lt. Amos has had a long and distinguished career with the APD, most
of that as a supervisor," said Col. Robert Francis. "He's always been
one of our most dependable, conscientious supervisors.

"If (Tulia) is what people remember him by, it's certainly unfair. A
lot of that, he had very little control over."

Amos, who did not return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday,
commanded the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Task Force, which
supervised undercover agent Tom Coleman during the Tulia operation.

Coleman's investigation led to the arrests of 46 people, 39 of them
black - nearly all of whom were later pardoned. Coleman has since been
indicted on three counts of perjury.

The city of Amarillo agreed to a $5 million settlement with the
defendants in March, at which time the city said Amos and another task
force supervisor, Sgt. Jerry Massengill, would retire from the
department. Their attorney at the time said the two officers were
voluntarily retiring for reasons other than the Tulia

Massengill is still working in the detective division at the

As part of the settlement with the defendants, Amarillo officials
agreed to disband the region-wide task force, which was replaced in
Amarillo by a narcotics unit focused solely on the city.

That unit will now be commanded by Lt. Erick Bohannon, who has been
training with Amos for several weeks.

Bohannon, who has over 12 years of service with the APD, said he did
not want to comment on the Tulia matter, with which he had no
involvement, but he did say Amos has been an impressive tutor.

"He has a wealth of knowledge, and he's been a good teacher," Bohannon
said. "I just pray I can remember all the things he has taught me."

The new narcotics unit in Amarillo is operating with fewer agents than
did the task force, but because of its narrower focus, the fight
against drugs in Amarillo is getting stronger, Francis said.

"Certainly, we're having more narcotic enforcement in the city of
Amarillo, which is obviously a positive," Francis said. "On the
downside, in the past, some narcotics came from outside the city and
we used to be active in those areas."

Bohannon said the narcotics unit will continue to operate largely as
it did before, fighting drugs through undercover work, street buys and

"The focus has changed to Amarillo, but we're doing the same work that
they did before - trying to make buys and take drugs off the street,"
Bohannon said. "We are looking to find the folks that are possessing
and selling drugs and put them in jail."
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