Wendy Ruderman, writing for the New York Times, says that the law of stop-and-frisk
is “blind to gender,” meaning that a male police officer can
perform a search on a female suspect just as they could on a male suspect.
Gender plays no role in an officer’s ability to perform a search.
But the problem with some searches is that they can escalate into something
quite sexual in nature.
Officers are trained to focus on the areas of the body where weapons can
be hidden, and often those areas include underwear. “Yes, it’s
intrusive,” said one law enforcement officer, as Ruderman quotes,
“but wherever a weapon can be concealed is where the officer is
going to search.”
The problem lies in the cases where the officer isn’t legally justified
in doing the stop-and-frisk. In those cases, and there are many, the officer
does not have legal authority to frisk the woman.
This, right there, leaves ripe the possibility of “sexual intimidation,”
as Ruderman writes, wherein an officer pats down a woman’s private
areas and rifles through the tampons in her purse for no justifiable reason.
criminal defense attorney today.