Senators Lena Taylor and Nikiya Harris Dodd denounce new strip search powers

November 6, 2015

Lena Taylor

By Steve Waring

Special to The Milwaukee Times

State Senators Nikiya Harris Dodd and Lena Taylor held a press conference outside the Milwaukee 5th District Police Station on November 2, 2015 to denounce Senate Bill 248, which expands the use of strip searches to any individual who is arrested and detained. “I opposed the bill when it was before me in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will continue to shine a light on the practice of strip searching non-violent temporary detainees,” Senator Taylor said. “This bill, as you might remember, removes the current requirement that a person be arrested or detained for at least twelve hours before they are strip searched.”

Sen. Taylor said she was sympathetic to the Wisconsin State Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association and the Badger State Sheriff ’s Association, all of whom have come out in favor of the bill as a means of ensuring safety of detained persons and law enforcement officials; but there is already a documented problem of abuse with the existing law and this change will cause more abuse and trauma to its victims, she said. “In June 2013, Devin Raglan was a passenger in a car with two male friends,” Sen. Taylor said. “They were stopped by the police. When a bullet and marijuana were found on the driver, Raglan was also patted down.

Next, however, Ragland was forced to drop his pants. An officer felt his testicles through his basketball shorts and when backup officers arrived, one pulled Ragland’s shorts and underwear away. Ragland was arrested for being a minor in possession of cigarettes, certainly a crime, but a crime worthy of this level of humiliation? I think not. Ragland’s story is just one of many. A Milwaukee attorney I spoke with has 14 cases of unlawful strip searches pending in federal court.” At the press conference the senators said the bill likely would make its way to the Senate floor soon. “I understand that law enforcement in smaller and mid-sized communities feel current law is insufficient to protect them,” Sen. Taylor said. “But current law and SB-248 are insufficient to protect Milwaukeeans. I attempted unsuccessfully to amend the bill in committee and will continue to do my best to limit the likelihood you or someone you know may be unnecessarily subjected to this humiliating practice.”