Wed October 10, 2012
Four Milwaukee Police Officers Charged in Strip Search Cases
Four Milwaukee police officers have been charged with illegal strip searches of numerous residents in the community.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced the charges today, after a lengthy John Doe investigation that included interviews with alleged victims and many police officers. Chisholm says the four officers charged broke Wisconsin's strip search law by going too far with searches of people who had been arrested or detained.
"This is not a new law by any means," he says. "It has been in place for a long time and it is designed with two goals in mind. Protect citizens from unlawful searches, and to protect officers: give them a framework in which they are expected to operate, that everybody understands."
One of the officers, Michael Vagnini, is alleged to have committed 25 acts of criminal misconduct, including some actions that have been charged as sexual assault.
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says the cases are one of willful misconduct. "Willful misconduct so egregious that the only appropriate response is criminal charges," he says. "Crime cannot be fought with criminality."
The ACLU of Wisconsin says the charges against the Milwaukee police officers is only a step. The civil liberties group says the Milwaukee Police Department needs to be investigated as well.