Thirty women who work at two strip clubs, Cheetahs and Expose, are suing the city of San Diego and police Chief Shelley Zimmerman for what they allege were “license inspections” that were really photo ops for officers who snapped pictures of dancers in dressing rooms during a raid on July 15, 2013. (No, those are not supposed to look like two stripper poles on the police patch).
Some 10 officers swarmed the club and forced the women to stand nearly nude while they allegedly took their pictures and made crude remarks. The officers reportedly ordered some women to lift what little clothing they had on to check for tattoos. These roughly dozen officers were needed for a license compliance inspection? The women were first asked to show their licenses, give their social security number, and answer questions. However, the officers then insisted the women line up in the back of the dressing room and be photographed.
The dancers are asking for $1.5 million or $50,000 for each dancer for emotional distress and pain and suffering.
San Diego Police issued this statement:
“The San Diego Police Department is required by the San Diego Municipal Code to inspect police regulated businesses. Nude establishments are one of many police regulated industries for which SDPD regularly conducts inspections. These inspections occur on a consistent basis throughout the year to ensure that all clubs and dancers are following the law.
The SDPD is currently conducting an internal investigation into allegations related to recent enforcement at Cheetah’s Adult Nightclub. As is standard protocol, we will not comment on this on-going internal investigation.”
While the police insist that they have the right to photograph these women for their tattoos, I fail to see the justification as part of a licensing inspection. These women are working in a lawful business. I do not see police demanding that fast-food workers or truckers strip for tattoo shots to confirm that their licenses are accurate. Why should strippers be subject to this demeaning process but not other workers. If someone is arrested, there is a valid need to photograph them but these women were not being arrested. Furthermore, if any of these officers personally retained or distributed these pictures, they should obviously be fired on that basis alone.
Source: LA Times