Since 2009, Albany police have conducted more than 650 strip searches. Police Chief Steven Krokoff expressed surprise over the number, but many say “surprise” isn’t a strong enough reaction for such alarming practices. Instead, the Chief should be looking at why his officers are so quick to make someone strip down, especially considering only a fraction of those subjected to the humiliating searches are found to have any contraband.
Let’s be clear—these aren’t all strip searchers being conducted as someone is processed into jail after being arrested. On the contrary, these searches are mostly being done outside of the police stations—in private homes and other locations.
So, not only are citizens being subjected to possibly unwarranted humiliation, but it’s happening in their homes, the one place someone should be free from such infringement.
As this editorial in the Times Union points out, a weapon could be detected with a thorough pat search. And certainly drugs don’t present the kind of dangerous emergency that would justify a strip search—certainly this is something that could be saved for the police department.
Twenty-two percent of the strip searches occurred in homes, private addresses. “In some cases, everyone present—not just those the police had reason to regard as criminal suspects—was ordered to strip naked.” Everyone? Under what justification? We don’t know.
What could possibly compel officers to have everyone in a private location to strip down for a search? Could it be these searches are being used as a method of harassment?
It wouldn’t be the first time cops stood accused of using their power to harass innocent people largely based on the neighborhood they’re in or the color of their skin, as the Times Union suggests.
What’s perhaps even more troubling than this latest revelation out of Albany, is that we don’t know how the rate compares with other law enforcement agencies. We don’t know because they don’t track the number of strip searches. And that is disturbing.
In the interest of equal enforcement of justice, cops are required to note the ethnicity of people they stop for traffic offenses. You would think the same interest would apply to something as serious as strip searches. You would think…but you would be wrong.
If you are facing criminal charges, an illegal search could be the justification for getting your case dropped. Whether you are charged with a drug offense or an assault crime, you need an advocate on your side throughout the criminal justice process. Contact our offices today to discuss your case and how we might be able to help.