MPD's policy on prisoner searches

CREATED Mar 28, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- Following the investigation surrounding Milwaukee police's alleged illegal strip searches, below is MPD's policy on strip searches as well as the state statutes.

MPD Policy on Prisoner Searches: Following is from the Milwaukee Police Department Standard Operating Procedure, Section 090.15 pertaining to the searching of prisoners. MPD policy mirrors the guidelines from the Wisconsin Department of Justice Training and Standards Bureau in the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Officers Criminal Law Handbook. Accompanying this post is a link to the statutory authority noted in our policy (Wisconsin State Statutes 968.255):

1. 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. Further, any strip
search or body cavity search shall not take place in the absence of probable
cause to believe a person in custody has secreted a weapon or evidence.
Note: Strip searches shall NOT be conducted in the booking room
due to the presence of video equipment.
2. Strip search means a search in which a detained person's genitals, pubic
area, buttock or anus, or a detained female person's breast, is uncovered
and either exposed to view or touched by a person conducting the search.
General Order 2011-07 PRISONERS Page 4 of 31
3. Wisconsin Statute 968.255(2) reads as follows: "No person may be the
subject of a strip search unless he or she is a detained person and if:
(a) The person conducting the search is of the same sex as the person
detained, unless the search is a body cavity search conducted under
sub. (3);
(b) The detained person is not exposed to the view of any person not
conducting the search;
(c) The search is not reproduced through a visual or sound recording;
(d) A person conducting the search has obtained the prior written
permission of the chief, sheriff, or law enforcement administrator of the
jurisdiction where the person is detained, or his or her designee,
unless there is probable cause to believe that the detained person is
concealing a weapon; and
(e) A person conducting the search prepares a report identifying the
person detained, all persons conducting the search, the time, date
and place of the search, and the written authorization required by par.
(d), and provides a copy of the report to the person detained."
4. Wisconsin State Statute 968.255(1) defines detained as "any of the following:
(a) Arrested for any felony.
(b) Arrested for any misdemeanor under Wisconsin Statute 167.30 (Use
of firearms, etc., near park, etc.); 940.19 (Battery; substantial battery,
aggravated battery); 941.20 (1) (Endangering safety); 941.23
(Carrying a concealed weapon); 941.237 (Carrying handgun and
alcoholic beverages); 941.24 (Possession of switchblade knife);
948.60 (Possession of dangerous weapon by a person under 18);
948.605 (Gun-free school zone) or 948.61 (Dangerous weapons on
school premises).
(c) Taken into custody under Wisconsin Statute 938.19 and there are
reasonable grounds to believe the juvenile has committed an act
which, if committed by an adult, would be covered under subd. 1 or 2.
(d) Arrested for any misdemeanor not specified in subd. 2, any other
violation of state law punishable by forfeiture, or any local ordinance if
there is probable cause to believe the person is concealing a weapon
or a object which may constitute evidence of the offense for which he
or she is detained".
General Order 2011-07 PRISONERS Page 5 of 31
1. The shift commander receiving approval for a strip search shall cause a Strip
Search Authorization Report (Form PS-7) to be completed. The original shall
be retained in the respective work location file and a copy provided to the person
being searched.
2. Members conducting strip searches shall affix the right index fingerprint of the
person being searched in the appropriate block on the PS-7. Further, any
person searched is to acknowledge receipt of a copy of the form by signing their
name and entering their home address and date. Should the person refuse to
sign the form, a supervisor shall indicate "Refused" on the form and sign the
3. Strip searches shall be conducted by two officers of the same sex as the
prisoner. Each officer shall sign the PS-7.
Members are prohibited from conducting a body cavity search. Wisconsin Statute
968.255 (3) provides that only a physician, physician's assistant or registered nurse
licensed to practice in this state may conduct a body cavity search.
1. When the intensity of the search extends to a complete body cavity search (i.e.
probing, the use of X-rays, the use of emetics to induce vomiting, etc.,) the
member who requests such search shall obtain a search warrant prior to the
search being executed.
2. Should the search warrant be refused, the prisoner shall be kept under close
observation and the remaining processing completed as quickly as
administratively possible (including the posting of any required bail). At that
point, the health of the prisoner is no longer the concern of the Department.

Additionally, here is a link to the statutory authority noted in MPD's policy: