A Texas state trooper has been suspended after being accused of conducting a body-cavity search of two women in public along a roadside, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety this week.
Trooper David Farrell has been placed on paid suspension while a grand jury reviews the case. Farrell is the second DPS trooper to be suspended in connection with the July incident that also led to the suspension of female trooper Kelley Halleson.
The incident took place on July 13 during a traffic stop in Irving, Texas, when troopers pulled over 38-year-old Angel Dobbs and her niece 24-year-old Ashley Dobbs for littering. One of the women was allegedly throwing cigarette butts from a window. According to reports, after making the stop Trooper David Farrell claimed that he detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. Farrell then reportedly asked the women if they had marijuana in the vehicle. The women denied that there were any illegal drugs inside the vehicle and allowed Farrell to search it. After being unable to find any drugs in the vehicle, Farrell allegedly attempted to change the questionable stop into a DUI investigation.
The driver of the vehicle, Angel Dobbs, was given a sobriety test. When the woman was determined to be sober Farrell reportedly called female trooper Kelley Halleson to the scene. According to the dashcam recording Farrell wanted Halleson to search the women because they were "acting weird."
Angel and Ashley were then forced to submit to a body-cavity search by Halleson while on the side of the road. Subsequently, no drugs were found and the two women were permitted to leave.
Angel and Ashley Dobbs have filed a lawsuit against both troopers, the DPS and its director Steve McGraw.
The lawsuit alleges that officers subjected the women to an illegal, extremely intrusive and humiliating search in in public and in full view of passing motorists.
The attorney for the two women, Scott H. Palmer, told the Dallas Morning News that what occurred was not a police procedure but a sexual assault against his clients.
"I was molested, I was violated, I was humiliated in front of other traffic. ... I had to watch my niece go through the same thing and I could not protect her at that point," Angel Dobbs told station KVUE.
Ashley Dobbs echoed her aunt's anguish at the hands of the two troopers.
"I don't think anybody needs to have to feel, or go through what we went through," she told NBC News. "It crosses my mind every day. It's humiliating."
Police misconduct appears to be on the rise lately. Or, has it already been rampant but people are now beginning to report it more?
For many in the inner cities of America the answer is simple. What these two women experienced is only a snapshot of what many face in areas all across the country. Stories of police misconduct abound among those who live in many of the high crime areas in the US.
Police work can be extremely stressful as they are exposed to many dangers in the line of their duties. Being human, just like the rest of us, they suffer from some of the same issues and problems as we do. To some extent, they may be even more vulnerable to certain situations. There are times when situations warrant a strong response from police, However, it is never excusable when an officer crosses the line between strong response and brutality or proper police procedure and plain humiliation.
There is never an excuse for police to contrive a situation for the sole purpose of making arrests, yet we are confronted with this prospect on a seemingly regular basis. From false DUI and drug arrests to incidents like this, we see this kind of behavior time and again from those whose duty is "to serve and protect."
Although the greater portion of our police serve honorably in their positions, there is a certain element among them that promote a culture that allows the kind of behavior we read about so often now.
Consequently, the sins of a few cast a pall of suspicion over all. A nation should never allow itself to fall into a state where its citizenry should be afraid of the very one tasked to protect them. Sadly, this is the condition that appears to gradually becoming a reality in some areas of this country.
Police and police forces are necessary and integral to society to avoid chaos and maintain order. Those in whom we entrust the authority to enforce our laws must always bear in mind that they are servants of the public--not the other way around. The awesome responsibilities that we place in the hands of the men and women who have sworn an oath to serve and protect us should never be taken lightly--neither by us, nor by those who wear the badge.