Milwaukee woman claims female MPD officer performed illegal strip searches

CREATED Mar. 26, 2012 - UPDATED: Mar. 26, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- The first female accusing Milwaukee police of illegal strip searches is sharing her story to TODAY'S TMJ4.

The 22-year-old Milwaukee woman didn't want to show her face on camera, but claims she was a subject of strip searches by officers from Milwaukee's 5th District.

"My illegal searches happened at least three times," said the woman.

Seven Milwaukee police officers and a supervisor had their police powers stripped; under investigation for performing illegal searches in the streets.  Now those allegations involve a female officer.

"She would do it on the sidewalk out in the open," said the alleged victim.  "She would penetrate as far as going inside my anus, or my vagina."

Under MPD policy, "Strip searches shall be conducted in accordance with Wisconsin Statute
968.255 (Strip searches) and 968.256 (Search of physically disabled person) and only with the approval of a captain or higher authority.

TODAY'S TMJ4 has learned four complaints were filed with the Fire and Police Commission including two Monday. The district attorney's office won't say if it has received any complaints. Police say they've had several.

Milwaukee civil rights and criminal defense lawyer Robin Shellow is keeping a close eye on Chief Flynn's internal investigation.  She thinks a lot is at stake for the department and district attorney's office; she believes police should not be handling the investigation.

"If the officers are charged, hundreds and hundreds of drug cases go out the window. There's needs to be federal oversight." said Shellow

Many of the alleged victims have criminal records and feared reporting the incidents.  "Even if you have a conviction you still have the same rights as all other Americans," said Chris Ahmuty with the ACLU. 

Ahmuty says MPD's internal investigation needs to address the systematic problems.  "Are the officers ignorant of it? Are they just willingly disobeying it? Or are there things the department is doing that's sending mixed signals," asked Ahmuty.

The Wisconsin ACLU says depending on the outcome of this investigation, this case could be handed to the Department of Justice or some claims may result in civil rights lawsuits.

If the officers violated MPD's strip search policy, they could be fined $1,000 or spend up to three months in jail.