Sexual thoughts during searches are the furthest thing from a police officer’s mind.
Are you worried about conducting your police street tactics and being accused of sexy searches? If you said yes, why?
Is it because 1) you are a pervert or 2) you are uncomfortable with cross-gender searches or 3) you are afraid of complaints?
Systematic pat downs including observation and physical inspection of a person, while clothed, are to be conducted without regard to gender. Police 101. Is that your department directive? Or are you required to do same gender searches, when possible?
What kills me the most is when I hear about officers bringing a female transport into the dispatch center for a pat down. Or their Records Division.
Say what? Oh yeah. You just brought a potential weapon into your life line and endangered civilians.
Set aside that they have been trained in this tactic, have signed confidentially forms, and work with you! Do you see the liability and safety risk?
Are police succumbing to the weight of public scrutiny?
In my opinion, if you are uncomfortable doing frisks, pat downs, or searches, you better get out of the profession. It is your job. It is life or death. Who even thinks about sexy searches? Still after looking at it from all angles, I do not know where we made a left turn in policy direction.
“Oh, it’s ok because I did a brief sweep before I brought them into the station and there are no weapons, but we just have to make sure.” Re-donkulous!
Boy howdy, wouldn’t it be great if, “Handcuffed Suspect Brings Gun Into Police Communications Center Killing Several” is your headline.
Or think about another “What If” scenario such as: because the suspect said she was wearing a TENS machine and you didn’t check, she just blew up your life line with a homemade bomb when you brought her in to be patted down. Or maybe she just blew you up in your g-ride. Knives. Knives are easy to hide. How many of us have had to watch those training videos on how fast you can die that way?
Think about many factors. Are these fears legit or paranoia?
On top of the obvious risk factors, if I was a bad guy, I would not think you need to be searching me eighty times because then I am going to think it is sexual and you are getting off on that kind of thing.
For example, you do a “swiper swipey” on the street, put me in the patrol car, and then transport me a couple miles to the precinct to do another check by a Records or Dispatch person, and then another one at the jail by a detention officer during book-in. Why isn’t that complaint material? Is it too much going too far? Or is this reasonable?
Here’s the thing. Are you a law enforcement officer? Check, check. Then frisking for weapons in those dynamic situations and doing pat downs after arrests are duties you are required to perform. Regardless of gender.
Searches being attentive to gender specifics are important in wiring up snitches, executing a search warrant of a person, or in correctional settings. These are controlled environments with special circumstances.
“Gee whiz, Kathryn, I do not want to be sued or accused of doing sexy searches.”
We all realize police-citizen tensions right now are somewhat high and perhaps there are many officers who constantly dwell about lawsuits. However you must do your job and do it while keeping your procedures systematic and proper.
Cops can get sued. It happens.
Furthermore, individuals who think anything sexual in their mind channeling while patting down a prisoner is a sicko and they belong in the clink right next to your suspect. It is a task. It isn’t a thrill ride nor foreplay to get arroused.
Consequently, we have all probably gotten verbal jabs while checking for weapons. So, what! We are tough skinned. Are you going to let a bad guy rattle your cage? It is nothing.
“Same Gender Search Policies” aim to paint a department in the corner.
Why have departments shied away from practical safety on patrol to implement such policies? I do not know. Most of the case law stems from correctional institutions, not street issues.
Most importantly, weapons are going to kill you. Like right now.
Or maybe later when the suspect stews about it in the back seat of your car and slips the cuffs.
Did someone come up with a brilliant policy deduction based upon a mouthy prisoner’s jab or potential perceived public opinion? Or are some officials just being overly cautious because they are uncomfortable and when they moved to rank of lieutenant they made a weak, feel good policy? Neither one suffices as a good reason to create such a directive, but it happens. The road is a dangerous place. It is imperative everyone is safe, including suspects.
We might want to consider these 7 things about policing and sexy searches.
Think about these 7 reasons why requiring same gender searches on patrol may not the best policy:
1) Safety. Are you going to let an arrestee jack around or have thoughts dance in their head while you wait for the same gendered officer to arrive? Or better yet, you do a brief swipe but avoid the “private” areas because you are intimidated. Bam! That’s where I am going to hide my gun because you officers are bunch of namby pambies.
2) Resource restrictions. Not every department has the luxury of having female officers deployed to every shift. And if so, is their entire job going to be Pat Down Queen?
3) Lawsuit openings. So if you do it part time or “when possible”, what happens when you get sued because you did not do it every time even if your policy has a window of vagueness? Now prisoners get to choose to complain when they ended up without a “when possible” selection. Is policing Burger King? Is it the customer’s way when possible? Um. No.
4) Cameras. We now have technology to record our work. You have body cameras and dash cameras. If you are so worried about being sued, then get in front of your camera. Attach the digital copy to the case.
5) Backup. Having another officer present not only is a smart and safe maneuver, but when affordable that person is a witness for any insecurity and adds to credibility.
6) Audio recorder. Go buy one. Turn it on. You better be talking to your arrestee while doing a pat down because if you are a Silent Joe, that is pretty creepy. Besides, talking to them eases their tensions and the “uncomfortable” situation is diffused.
7) Directives and policies written or unwritten are regulations. When you make this a directive or policy, it is the rule. Period. Then someday, the courts see what several departments are doing and make it a nation-wide requirement because it sounds nice. And you just changed policing.
Now I realize there will be nay-sayers or those who argue against my opinion. I get pretty passionate as well as snarky about this topic. Perhaps look at it as food for thought. Street patrol is not corrections so incarceration can be treated differently than the road. Police reform is great and necessary, but that does not mean law enforcement organizations need to get rid of being practical tactical. In the end, we all want to go home safely, and I sure do not want to blow it because I had to wait for a man and things went south.