Police Charged with Illegal Body Cavity Searches
It’s the stuff of bad movies – cops threatening a body cavity search on a suspect either to punish them or get them to talk. And even though there is a reason for them, the regulations on such searches don’t allow police to probe whatever they want, whenever they want.
Now, seven Milwaukee police officers have been disciplined for abusing body cavity searches, including performing some in the field, a practice strictly forbidden. Others were searched inappropriately during the booking process.
According to a news report on MSNBC: Strip searches, which Wisconsin state law defines as searching "a detained person's genitals, pubic area, buttock or anus, or a detained female person's breast," can only be performed by a doctor, physician's assistant or registered nurse. The state law requires written permission before a strip search is conducted, unless there's probable cause to believe the suspect is hiding a weapon.
Violating these rules can yield a sentence of three months in jail and a thousand dollar fine – for each offense. And, along with the embarrassment and civil rights violations of the detained, such searches, when found to be improper, also get any evidence found thrown out of court. The end result is a barbaric practice that doesn’t produce any practical result. They may also be charged as sexual offenses or race crimes, depending on the circumstances.
At least one of the incidents involved a 15 year old, adding possible child molestation to the mix.
The matter is currently under investigation in Milwaukee, and the case has been sealed as the investigation continues. So far, there has been no shortage of ex-offenders coming forward with “me too” stories. It is also probable that abuse of strip searches doesn’t stop at the Milwaukee city limits. Hopefully, the news of this case will change any inappropriate policies in effect elsewhere.