San Diego Police Sued Over Stripper “Inspections” At Two Clubs

Patch_of_the_San_Diego_Police_DepartmentThirty 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

31 thoughts on “San Diego Police Sued Over Stripper “Inspections” At Two Clubs”

  1. Why do I smell “American Taliban” in this move by SDP. Have so-called church groups been putting pressure on the police chief?

  2. Work around. San Diego massage parlors. Acupuncture-Massage and Healing Touch.

    The more you pay, additional services are offered.

    Human Trafficking Task Force and the Detective Unit conducted an undercover sting at the massage parlor locations. Like I said, more services were offered.
    This occurred about the same time as the Cheetahs July 2013 raid.

  3. Why do strippers need to be licensed in the first place? Also these cops need to fired, they are going to cost the tax payers a lot of money.

  4. The San Diego taxpayers deserve to be penalized. They vote into office a Mayor, Board of Police Commissioners, Alderman. Those people hire a Chief. The Chief and the Board hire officers of the law. Under the civil rights law these folks are all “state actors” and can be sued personally for violating a person’s civil rights. Then the Superior officer is liable for the cop action. The municipality is liable for the policies, and actions of the cops, supervisors and Chief. The voter is responsible for his/her actions and needs to pay for the conduct of his/her employees.

  5. San Diego has had something like ten officers arrested for sexually assaulting women they arrested for such major violations as speeding. The answer was to fire the police chief and start a nationwide search for a new one. The new mayor, Kevin Faulconer, having been elected but not yet sworn into office, nixed that plan. He cancelled the search and appointed the present assistant chief, Shelley Zimmerman, as the new chief.

    The result was predictable, and has indeed come to pass. Business as usual. The rapes, assaults and such by San Diego police officers continue. Why Hizzoner the mayor thought that the assistant who was helping the old chief mislead the police department was the ideal person to right the sinking ship escapes me. She was a part of the “good old boy network” and it is hardly surprising that the department continues to decline.

    1. Bill H – didn’t San Diego have a cop who was a serial rapist and/or killer. It was a while back, so my memory is a little clouded.

  6. BBrain: The police keep a catalog of tattoos; serves the same general purpose as fingerprints. So when “Porsche” tells the police she’s Betty, they will know she’s lying because the real Betty has a tattoo of the Constitution, not a pink porpoise.

    1. Steve H – that is a great theory but rarely do people have unique tattoos. They get them off the rack, so to speak. And women seem to have particular locations they like to have particular tattoos. So neither the location or the tattoo are unique, so it is hard to tell whether it really is Betty or Porsche. And then gravity hits and distorts that tattoos, so that is just added to the mix.

  7. Paul C. Schulte

    … I went to a seminar on gang violence in my county and the pictures of several of my students were used as examples of gangsters to be aware of. It was a little unsettling.
    What did you teach them?

    1. Dredd – do you even read what you post? Review your post at 9:44 and then ask again.

  8. BelgianBrain

    Why on earth would you need to check for tattoos??
    A pig’s libido is strong and leads them around by the snout.

  9. This is quite an irregular licensee inspection I must say. Though code enforcement officials usually perform these inspections in medium to large cities police have the authority to do so. Sometimes police are brought along if code enforcement might have trouble with a business, such as one where code enforcement had trouble with a shopkeeper.

    It sounds to me like this was more than just a run of the mill inspection to check fire egresses, lighting, and licenses. It at worse like either the code inspection was a pretext to gather intelligence for a later investigation for something else, or a bunch of guys down in the squad room decided to have a little fun.

    The linked news article read the officers photographed the dancers in various positions the officers demanded they pose in. To me that is what blew their credibility when insisting this was a standard code enforcement issue.

    The only issue that would have been valid was for the dancers to provide their license/permit upon demand of a LEO.

    If they were concerned these businesses were going too far with what was allowed to be shown to their patrons the police department should have went in there in plain clothes and watched what was happening.

  10. I worked with at-risk youth and the cops were constantly taking Polaroids of them, especially any tats they had. The tats will make it easier to identify them when the next serial killer comes thru San Diego.
    In fact, I went to a seminar on gang violence in my county and the pictures of several of my students were used as examples of gangsters to be aware of. It was a little unsettling.

  11. I also find it questionable that police are given the power of regulatory compliance for strip clubs, when the public health authorities seem much better suited for this task.
    Sounds like a holdover from the old days.

  12. I would have to see the evidence before I could possibly comment.

  13. The San Diego taxpayers will be penalized.

    These a**holes abusing their authority? Not so much.

  14. I’m surprised we didn’t get the standard “all policies were followed” that seems to accompany all allegations of police misconduct.

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