- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Twenty-five San Diego strip club dancers have launched a civil rights suit against the San Diego Police Department, alleging cops mistreated them during a recent raid and forced them to strike embarrassing poses while they took photographs of their tattoos.

The police, meanwhile, said the photos are just part and parcel of doing business as a stripper — and that cops were only doing their jobs, NBC San Diego reported.

The incident kicked off a couple weeks ago when 10 officers raided the Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club in Kearny Mesa for a permit check of 30 dancers, said court documents filed by the attorney for the strippers, Dan Gilleon. The dancers say the officers detained them against their will, and absent any warrant or probable cause, NBC reported.

The claim also says the cops told the dancers to strike various poses in the near-nude to allow for their cameras to capture their tattoos.

Some of the strippers claimed the officers made “arrogant and demanding comments” and told them to “smile” while snapping shots, the court documents said. And one, Brittany Murphy, described to the court: “I got my pictures taken from at least my knees upwards, and I’m half dressed. I felt kind of violated and like my rights were not there,” NBC reported.

The officers reportedly said the photographs were due for update, and that the dancers’ work permits require that they provide annual photos and fingerprints. Meanwhile, Lt. Kevin Mayer said the police were only acting in accordance with standard procedure.

“The city municipal code mandates that the police department go out and conduct these inspections,” he said, NBC reported. “Now to be an adult entertainer or to own a strip club — those are both police-regulated businesses and to be in that profession, you have to get a permit. So we’re mandated to go out and conduct these inspections, the people and the holders of these permits are aware that these [checks] are coming.”

He also said the tattoos provide police with a solid identification mark, because dancers frequently change their identities or give law enforcement false information, NBC reported.

The dancers are suing for more than $10,000, but the exact dollar amount isn’t yet known, NBC said.

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