Getting pulled over is uncomfortable enough, whether you feel like you have done something or not. But just imagine feeling violated by the police who pulled you over for not doing anything? This is exactly what happened to two women in Texas last year, and apparently they are not the only ones. After this incident was reported, so was another in Florida, by two more women and the calls keep coming in. Law officers have been performing inappropriate searches on women all over the country.
Lawsuits have been filed in several different cases for unfriendly, completely illegal and unnecessary body cavity searches performed on the side of the road by law-enforcement state troopers on women across Texas and in several other states. The searches are deemed ‘unconstitutional’ by both the women and Texas officials. These are not isolated incidences, which has made state attorney and former Dallas law enforcement officer Peter Schulte appalled. He says of his time as a police officer: “It’s ridiculous. We would never put our hands anywhere near someone’s private parts. When I saw that video I was shocked. I was a law enforcement officer for 16 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Though interviews were denied by Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, who oversees state troopers, he says his department “does not and will not tolerate any conduct that violates the U.S. and Texas constitutions, or DPS training or policy.”
Angel Dobbs, age 38, told the news that she was pulled over by trooper David Farrell on a Friday night for littering, which she denies. She says that no ticket was issued, but instead the trooper called in a female officer to perform a cavity search on the side of the road, in full view of traffic. She had been asked “Do you have anything in your socks? In your shoes? In your underwear?” Though she had been questioned in this way, the officer did not attempt to check her socks or shoes, only her private parts. Shocking. When Dobbs tried to say the happenings were ridiculous, the female officer simply told her to “shut up and turn around.”
Though the trooper’s attorney argued at the trial that there was no penetration, Dobbs replied “She knows there was penetration. On both sides. Along the side of the road. She knows what she did.”
This video was taken from the troopers vehicle and the very fact that it exists shows there must have been some sort of unwritten policy regarding these type of searches.
This video, after being published on YouTube and going viral, was one of the main pressures which finally made the lawsuits happen.
Another set of women in Texas, Brandy Hamilton and Alexandria Randle, were pulled over on their way home from the beach only 6 weeks from this previous incident on Memorial Day of 2012 and likewise ‘strip-searched’ on the side of the road. In this particular case, the female officer did not do them the courtesy of changing gloves in between intimate body cavity searches, which appalled the women, and the on-lookers from their caravan who watched from the car behind the trooper.
The officer said he could smell marijuana in the car, to which the women replied they had none, only cigars. They proceeded to question the women and request they get out of the car.
Hamilton asked before leaving her vehicle: “Can I please put on my dress, because I have on a swimsuit?” to which the officer replied “Don’t worry about that, come on out here.” After sending for the female officer, the male officer tells Hamilton “She is about to get up close and personal with some womanly parts. She is going to search you, I ain’t, because I ain’t about to get up close and personal with your woman areas.”
Hamilton is then handcuffed in her bathing suit and bent over the vehicle where the state trooper proceeds to probe her, in full view of traffic. “Do you know how violated I feel?” says Hamilton. Screams could be heard by the other family members in the vehicle watching as the women were treated inappropriately by the officers.
Since the incidents, lawsuits have been filed and officers suspended. There are several charges for sexual misconduct awaiting judgment. The first case was settled in June of 2013 for $184,000, though criminal charges against the officers are still pending.
It is important for the public to become aware that this type of behavior by state troopers is unacceptable and they in no way need to submit themselves to the actions these women and other women have done. The constitution protects against unlawful search and seizure – and these incidences definitely fit into that category. It is not okay for law officers to perform inappropriate body-cavity searches on women or anyone without just cause. It is just not.
Written by: Stasia Bliss