Is ACLU law­suit against D.C. cops a red her­ring? ‘A

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS Deb­o­rah Sim­mons can be con­tacted at dsim­mons@wash­ing­ton­

n of­fi­cer told us to drop our pants,” Shay Horse said. “An of­fi­cer went down the row telling each of us not to flinch as he grabbed our balls and yanked on them, and then stuck his finger up each of our anuses and wig­gled it around. I felt like they were us­ing mo­lesta­tion and rape as pun­ish­ment.”

Mr. Horse painted that pic­ture Wed­nes­day at the Na­tional Press Club, where he stood along­side the D.C. ACLU to an­nounce that a law­suit had been filed against the D.C. gov­ern­ment for un­law­ful ac­tions that the po­lice took dur­ing In­au­gu­ra­tion Day’s vi­o­lence and chaos. Mr. Horse is named as a plain­tiff, and three others also are su­ing.

Law en­force­ment mustn’t be a red her­ring.

Body and cav­ity searches of crim­i­nal sus­pects by law en­forcers are part and par­cel to en­sur­ing public safety in all public safety set­tings, yes?

The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, which filed the suit on Mr. Horse’s be­half, doesn’t al­ways agree.

In 2012, for in­stance, the ACLU urged the Michi­gan De­part­ment of Corrections to aban­don it prac­tice of con­duct­ing strip searches and body searches of fe­male pris­on­ers. The ACLU ar­gued that the searches were “de­grad­ing,” could eas­ily re-trau­ma­tize pris­on­ers who had been sex­u­ally abused and were un­san­i­tary be­cause the pris­on­ers had to use their own hands to prep for the vagi­nal search.

Michi­gan corrections changed its search policy. (Tsk, tsk.)

The ACLU also ar­gued, among other things, that such searches served “no se­cu­rity pur­poses.”

Search­ing sus­pects and in­mates for weapons, drugs and other con­tra­band is a rea­son­able given — even when you con­sider what hap­pens on a scale smaller than a state corrections fa­cil­ity.

The sher­iff of Franklin County, along Florida’s pan­han­dle, re­cently hauled in a bun­dle of con­tra­band — in­clud­ing cell­phones, metham­phetamine, mar­i­juana, oxy­codone, to­bacco prod­ucts, snuff and co­caine. The county’s pop­u­la­tion num­bers only 11,549, mak­ing it the third small­est in the Sun­shine State.

(In­ter­est­ingly enough, Michi­gan corrections au­thor­i­ties had to probe an in­mate’s fa­tal over­dose this year, try­ing to find out how the pris­oner got his hands on subox­one, a pow­er­ful syn­thetic opi­ate.)

Re­turn­ing to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, public safety au­thor­i­ties say they are tight­en­ing se­cu­rity at the D.C. Jail fol­low­ing the drug over­doses of two in­mates.

The District’s med­i­cal ex­am­iner ruled on Tues­day that Ken­neth Parker and Eric Ter­rell, in­mates jailed on vi­o­lent crime charges, died of opi­oid over­doses. Both men were found dead in their jail cells. Both died from il­licit nar­cotics.

Corrections Di­rec­tor Quincy Booth says his agency is try­ing to tighten its grip on con­tra­band smug­glers, but there’s a huge road­block in the way: Body cav­ity searchers are il­le­gal. The D.C. law must be changed. Said Mr. Horse of D.C. cops at Wed­nes­day’s press con­fer­ence: “They used those tac­tics to in­flict pain and mis­ery on peo­ple who were sup­posed to be in­no­cent un­til proven guilty. It felt like they were try­ing to break me and the others. Break us so that even if the charges didn’t stick, that night would be our pun­ish­ment. I was in po­lice cus­tody for about 33 hours. My anus was still sore when I was re­leased.”

Mr. Horse and his co-plain­tiffs might have a con­sid­er­able le­gal gripe, and we’ll have to see what a judge and jury have to say about that.

Still, we must not be dis­tracted. Law en­forcers have a sworn duty to serve and to pro­tect — and that duty in­cludes pro­tect­ing them­selves from unchecked con­tra­band, as well as pro­tect­ing the ar­rested and the suspected.

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