The New York City agency that investigates police abuse said yesterday that it had found evidence suggesting that officers may be conducting inappropriate strip searches, says the New York Times. It said officers and supervisors often are unaware of police department procedures governing such searches. The Civilian Complaint Review Board based its concerns on dozens of complaints over strip searches filed since 2002. It reviewed in detail more than a dozen, mostly by narcotics officers, that it had found to be improper.
All but one of the cases cited involved people who had been arrested for petty crimes, including making too much noise, disorderly conduct, and drug possession. They told investigators that they had been ordered to strip to their underwear or strip completely. Some said they had been ordered to squat or bend over. Officers or supervisors who ordered or performed the searches told investigators they believed the searches had been appropriate.
The number of cases is relatively small – 65 last year and 32 so far this year, but officers and supervisors told board investigators that others in their commands routinely conducted the kind of searches that the board found violate police of department procedures. Sixteen of 85 strip-search complaints between Jan. 1, 2002, and April 1, 2004, have been substantiated. The board did the study because it determined in January that strip search complaints were substantiated roughly twice as often as other complaints.