More than a year after reports of illegal strip searches surfaced and protests about police tactics roiled Milwaukee, police will have a new policy governing the way officers interact with citizens and requiring for the first time documentation to help the department keep track of informal, consensual searches, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The community needs to be reassured after several high-profile incidents involving police interactions with community members that we have a proper policy and are requiring (officers) to do these things,” said Michael Tobin, executive director of the Fire and Police Commission.
One of those incidents involved allegations that officers sexually assaulted people and violated their civil rights while conducting rectal searches for drugs on the street. Four officers ultimately were charged. The new policy, which goes into effect Sunday, emphasizes that strip searches can be conducted only with the approval of a captain or higher authority, or a lieutenant if an officer of higher rank is not available. In 2010, no strip-search authorization reports were filed. In 2011, four were recorded. In 2012, the year the allegations of illegal strip searches became public, the number of reports skyrocketed to 29.