Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stop and Frisk

I was riding out with my fiance on Saturday. He is a police officer and I thought the ride along could prove entertaining. I originally was watching how other officers profiled cars and people to decide who to stop. Then something else caught my attention. Adrian stopped a car and was going to search the car. His backup arrived and pulled the female passenger out to be sure she had no weapons. He had to bring the female to the front of the car, face her towards the in car camera, and could only search her with the back of his hand. When the stop was complete I asked whether females searching males had to follow this same procedure and the answer was no. Interesting. I find it hard to believe that no male would find it uncomfortable to have a female performing an intrusive search. I believe it would be fair to extend this same courtesy to males being searched by females. Another concern is that the policy was enacted because there is a risk of sexual assault claims and the department does not want to give the appearance of impropriety. It is as though we have to protect females from the cops who may violate their rights. Is there absolutely no risk that a female would sexually assault a man if a search is performed off camera?

Policies like these can prove disturbing. On one level it is comforting to know that these policies are being enacted due to past events and officers taking advantage of their authority. But, on another level it reinforces the protectionist attitude. What harm would result from simply having such a rule but applying in to both sexes? I understand a department's desire to lower chances of lawsuit as much as possible; but, a man could just as easily sue for sexual assault in a similar situation. Or could he? A man could be made fun of if he brought such a lawsuit. After all, what "real man" would mind being felt up by a woman? We could prevent men from feeling such pressure if we applied the rule universally. However, it does not appear that society feels that men need such rules.

On a side note, I was entertained when a man asked if I had been arrested for the same thing as him-family violence. I wanted to say "Of course, I am just a special prisoner, that is why they put me in the front seat." I refrained and replied with the standard "No, I am not under arrest."

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