Policy: Strip Search and Body Cavity Search

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to establish policy and procedures for conducting strip searches and body cavity searches.

POLICY

The Michigan State University Police Department (Department) follows current laws and practices for strip searches and body cavity searches. It is the policy of this Department that all personnel follow these procedures.

DEFINITIONS

Strip Searches

Search which requires a person to remove his or her clothing to expose underclothing, breasts, buttocks or genitalia.

Body Cavity

The interior of the human body not visible by normal observations. This is defined as the stomach, rectal cavity or the vagina. The definition does not speak to the mouth.

Body Cavity Search

The physical intrusion into a body cavity for the purpose of discovering any object concealed within the cavity.

Private Place

A “private place” is defined as a location which prevents the search from being observed by a person not conducting or necessary to assist with the search.

PROCEDURES

Strip Searches

Applicability

Felony

A person arrested for a felony may be strip searched.

Misdemeanor or Civil Arrests

A person arrested or detained for misdemeanors or offenses punishable only by civil fine shall not be strip searched unless both of the following occur:

Being lodged in a detention facility by order of a court, or there is reasonable cause to believe that the person is concealing a weapon, controlled substance or evidence of a crime.

The strip search is conducted by a person who has obtained written authorization from the Chief of Police (Chief) or designee via email or memorandum.

Procedure

Private Place

The search shall be conducted in a “private place.”

The Department holding rooms meet this definition as long as provisions are made to ensure other persons, including officers, cannot observe the activity either intentionally or by chance through any windows or one-way glass.

Same Gender

The search shall be performed by a person of the same gender as the person being searched. Additionally, all officers who assist in this search shall be of the same gender.

Incidental Observation

The search must be free of observation by a person not conducting or necessary to assist with the search. This eliminates the involvement of any incidental police officers.

The search officer and a minimum number of assisting officers are allowed to maintain prisoner control and shall be designated. All other officers not designated are to remain out of the search area and a person shall be posted outside of the door. If that is not feasible, then signage stating “No Unauthorized Access Allowed” shall be posted on the door.

Strip Search Report

If a strip search is conducted, the arresting officer shall prepare a report of this activity. The Department’s “Strip or Body Cavity Search” form shall be completed. A copy is kept on the Department Wiki. The report shall include the following information:

Name and gender of the person searched

Name and gender of the person conducting the search

Name and gender of the person(s) assisting in the search. A short explanation of the reason for each additional person’s presence shall be included, i.e., “prisoner control, etc.”

The time, date and place of the search

List of all items recovered from the person searched

Justification for conducting the search

This requires the arresting officer to report the reasonable cause relied upon to support the necessity for the strip search.

The reasonable cause includes facts, circumstances or information giving rise to an honest belief that the person searched is presently concealing a weapon, controlled substance or evidence of a crime.

A copy of the written authorization required by this policy that was obtained via email or memorandum.

A copy of the strip search report shall be given, without cost, to the person searched subject to permitted redaction under the Freedom of Information Act.

Penalty for unauthorized Strip Search

A law enforcement officer or employee of a law enforcement agency who conducts a strip search or authorizes a strip search in violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Body Cavity Searches

Search Warrants Requirements

A search of a body cavity shall not be conducted without a valid search warrant.

The need for a search warrant applies equally to both misdemeanor and felony arrests.

Cavity Search Procedure

Relationship to a Strip Search

Since many body cavity searches may arise from strip searches, the officer must present a strip search report form when seeking a body cavity search warrant.

Personnel Required

Medical Personnel Requirement

The body cavity search shall be conducted by a licensed physician or a physician’s assistant, licensed practical nurse, or a registered professional nurse acting with the approval of a licensed physician.

Gender Requirement

If the body cavity search is conducted by a person of the opposite gender, then the search shall be conducted in the presence of a person of the same gender as the arrested subject.

The above requirement is naturally fulfilled by the presence of the officer(s) since the same gender and observations restrictions of the strip search procedures are required for body cavity searches.

Search Site Selection

Medical Facility

Most physicians will require that the arrested subject be brought to a medical facility for search. This would naturally apply in cases involving the stomach or deep rectal insertion.

It should be remembered that the presence of a physician is not necessary. Only that the assistant or nurse are acting with the physician’s approval.

A local hospital will suffice to conduct the search pursuant to the search warrant. The name of the facility and medical personnel shall all be identified in the report.

Evidence Chain

All items of evidence recovered during the search will be immediately seized by the officer executing the warrant.

Body Cavity Search Report

The officer executing the warrant shall prepare a report of this activity. A separate “Strip or Body Cavity Search” form shall be completed detailing the body cavity search procedure. The report shall include the following:

A copy of the search warrant

Name and gender of person searched

Name and medical status of the person who conducted the search

Name of physician who approved the search, if other than the searcher

Time, date and place of the search

List of all items recovered

Name and gender of all officers present at the search

A copy of the body cavity search report shall be given, without cost, to the person searched, subject to permitted redaction under the Freedom of Information Act.

Penalty for unauthorized body cavity searches

A law enforcement officer or an employee of a law enforcement agency who conducts a body cavity search or authorized a body cavity search in violation of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.