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Prosecutors investigate Milwaukee police strip-searches


MILWAUKEE (WSAU) Milwaukee prosecutors have started a John Doe investigation to see if criminal charges are warranted against police officers who did strip searches on drug suspects. Seven officers and the sergeant of an anti-gang unit were stripped of their police powers earlier this month, and were put on desk duty.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has said that officers allegedly violated suspects’ civil rights by conducting rectal searches to look for illegal drugs. The chief said the department did not begin an investigation until last week, after sporadic complaints had spiked.

The Journal Sentinel said Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner will conduct the John Doe probe, in which prosecutors can secretly gather evidence to decide whether to file criminal charges. Attorney Jonathan Cermele said yesterday that he represents several of the officers – but he refuses to say whether or not they’ve been called before the judge. Flynn said last week that the police department’s investigation is continuing, and he asked victims to come forward if they have not already done so.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the allegations are serious. And he said the officers should be punished if they something wrong – or vindicated if they didn’t.