Police conduct in strip searches examined

May 29, 2012 at 4:19 PM
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MILWAUKEE, May 29 (UPI) -- A Milwaukee police officer is being singled out for intrusive procedures in an investigation of illegal strip searches, a police report says.

Officer Michael Vagnini is one of eight department employees under investigation for allegedly illegal strip searches in Milwaukee's District 5, one of seven police districts in the city; but a police report said he searched a suspect's anal area for drugs while assisting District 7 officers in July 2011, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday.

The defendant apparently knew the procedures, turning around and bending over when Vagnini arrived, the report said.

"According to the report, Officer Vagnini had a reputation for doing this,"said defense attorney Alex Cossi, who handled the case. "This is not a rogue happenstance. This was tacit acceptance of strip searches without proper procedures or supervision."

The drug dealing charge against the man was dropped, the second such charge to be dropped in recent weeks amid allegations the evidence was illegally obtained, the newspaper said.

Vagnini, six other officers and a supervisor were stripped of their badges in March 2012 after allegations that rectal searches for drugs may have been sexual assaults and violations of civil rights. Milwaukee County prosecutors have launched an investigation, as have the civilian Fire and Police Commission, and the Police Internal Affairs Division, the newspaper said, adding that federal officials and the Milwaukee Common Council are monitoring the process.

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