Atlanta taxpayers have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle lawsuits brought by men who said they were touched inappropriately by police officers searching them, and the city is on the verge of paying out more, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Late last year, the Atlanta Police Department spent almost $300,000 to settle two lawsuits brought against officers who touched the genitals of suspects. Yesterday, the City Council agreed to pay $470,000 to settle a lawsuit by five men who said officers pulled down their pants and touched them inappropriately while looking for drugs that were not found.
Critics say officers have continued to use invasive search techniques, even after earlier settlements, though some in law enforcement say they understand that officers don't want to risk a hidden weapon. “This is not something that happened just once with a particular officer who has issues,” said Marlon Kautz of the grassroots organization Copwatch. “It's an observable pattern throughout the department. That's got to make one ask is this a deliberate strategy on the part of APD to humiliate people.” Former police officer Frank Rotondo, director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said such searches are necessary. saying he had “missed weapons in the crotches of people, so regretfully you have to do that sometimes.”