Strip searches seem to be on the rise in this country. They don’t even have to suspect that you’re hiding something “criminal” like a gun or drugs. If you have a suspended registration, or you’re a trucker driving in the left lane, that’s all some police need to perform a strip search on you in public in the middle of the day for all the other drivers to see.
Driver after driver told investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer officers searched inside their pants while they were stopped for minor traffic violations. In several cases, the invasive searches targeted passengers who were riding in the car. “He was like, ‘Just unbuckle all your clothes,’ and put his hands down inside my pants,” said Terry Phillips.
Forest Park police had pulled over Phillips’ wife for a suspended registration. Phillips consented to a search. However on the officer’s dashboard camera recording Phillips can clearly be heard protesting when he realized the extent of the officer’s intentions. “That’s illegal, man, you can’t do that. You can’t do that,” said Phillips to the officer. The officer continued. Phillips filed a complaint with the Forest Park Police Department and hired an attorney.
“It’s just embarrassing. I’ve got everybody seeing me exposed,” said Alphonzo Eleby of his similar encounter with DeKalb Police. Eleby had stopped at a gas station, parked his car at the pump, and run into the store for a money order. As he exited, he stopped to say hello to an acquaintance parked outside. ”There was just basically no reason for the search, but I still allowed them to search me because I had nothing to hide,” Eleby told Fleischer. He said an officer walked him through the parking lot with his belt open and underwear exposed. He says the officer then reached into the front of his pants with his bare hand. “He went inside my underwear and searched my genital area,” Eleby said, “It was just embarrassing.” That officer found nothing on Eleby, but charged him with possession of marijuana anyway; his report alleges he saw Eleby throw something to the ground. But a convenience store video shows Eleby’s hands did not move, and the officer appears to toss something to the ground. The DeKalb County Solicitor dropped the charge against Eleby and forwarded the case to the district attorney to investigate the officer.
These people had “nothing to hide.” That’s usually the line of reasoning we hear from police or government when the issue is violations of the 4th Amendment or warrantless wiretaps and surveillance. They’ll say, “If you have nothing to hide, you should have nothing to fear.” We should all know by now that that’s a bunch of bunk.