Throwback Thursday | Strip Search 101


First thing this morning at work we have an interesting conversation that leads to a throw-back to my days of working at the Sheriff's Office.

And the occasional days of strip-searching female inmates.

Boy am I glad those days are over!  But as a nod to that part of my past, I decided to repost the blog from 2007 that maintained it for posterity.




Strip Search 101 


Okay...I work at the Sheriff's Office. I mainly do the bookkeeping, but every once in a while, I get called on for a 'special' task. One I'd be more than happy to give up. But because of my lack of male genetailia....I get stuck with it.

Female prisoner comes in.....she's gotta be searched before she's stuck in a cell. Guess who gets to do it.

Yep, you guessed it.

Yours truly.

It wouldn't be so bad if all the female prisoners I've ever had to search was about 23 years old, slender, small-of-chest-and neatly trimmed in the undercarriage.  Not because I want something to look at, but because age-wise that puts us on even ground and because the rest of it helps to avoid uncomfortable questions that I'll hit upon later.

I'm not saying every woman has been the picture of disgust and poor hygeine....but overall--my experience searching women has not been pleasant.

And it's always [sarcasm] great [/sarcasm] when they're vulgar, aggressive, or have a sexual orientation other than my own....

At this point, I've only searched about a dozen women. And in those searches....I've learned some basic search procedures.

Keep in mind, I'm not properly trained to search anyone, but I've been given the rundown.

Here's the general rule:

Gloves. First and foremost. GLOVES!! For the love of God! Put some gloves on!

Next...I start at the top...pat out the hair, make sure there's nothing hidden in it anywhere, open your mouth...(note to self: hold breath)...the mouth should be empty.

Shirt off...bra off....

Guys, don't get yourself going...there's nothing fantasy-worthy here. It's work. It's professional. It's as little touching as possible, and what touching IS done, is done out of sheer need for the safety of our facility and our employees.

Okay, arms out.

If her breasts create any folds in skin....you must pick up and examine under that fold or around that fold. Check under arms, between breasts, etc.

Put your bra back on...shirt stays off. (Also check shirt and outerwear to make sure nothing is hidden in them or any pockets they might have.)

Shoes off.

Examine each shoe inside and out to make sure there's nothing hidden there.

Socks off. Check each sock to make sure nothing is in it.

Okay...pants down.

And the underoos.

Check pants and pockets. Empty pocket contents of everything, but leave it visible so that they can see nothing is being removed...unless it's a weapon or illicit substance...obviously that goes into an evidence baggie...never had that happen, though.

Okay...and once underwear are removed...the fun part. She has at most a bra on right now....she's uncomfortable...I'm uncomfortable.

But it gets worse.

Some of the women I've had to search exceeded 300 lbs. easily. This is the uncomfortable part.

How do you politely ask someone to lift a roll (or more than one roll) of body fat so that you can check between them?

And as if that's not bad enough...those gloves...you're glad you have them, because you get to feel between those folds and layers. To top that...to avoid touching in any inappropriate places, there's this technique we utilize.

The "Squat and Cough".

It's always been my frame of mind that if a woman has something hidden in her va-jay-jay or her back door, she can have it. This procedure helps to rule that out.

The woman is simply instructed to squat a little, legs apart...obviously I have to squat some, too, because I have to be where I can visibly ascertain if something peeks out when she coughs.

Fun.

I don't even look at MYSELF down there so it's just a little less than comfortable for me to stare at another woman, especially since a couple of the women don't just cough (so it's always a good idea to hold your breath at this point in time, too).

Once that's done, and once all clothes and folds of skin have been checked, she gets dressed out and I gather up all pocket contents or finds to turn over to the intake officer to go into the prisoner's property or the money is put on the books for them.

So, that's pretty much it.

Gloves off.  Exhale and take a deep breath of fresh air.

And always remember to wash your hands...gloves or no gloves...just do it.
Ashley Harris Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.