Thursday, June 3, 2010

Remove the Avocado

There are just some things in this world one should never have to say.

Part of my job entails completing a strip search on female inmates. This is NOT the highlight of my job. I can't ever remember thinking I wanted to get into this profession so I could look at nasty cooch all day. While an unpleasant aspect of the job, I do understand it is a necessary evil.

I happen to like my body the way it is. I prefer to not have knives or other sharp objects sticking in or out of it. So the main thing I am looking for is weapons that can be used to harm me, fellow officers, other inmates, or themselves. And in my years of doing this I have found knives, box cutters, razor blades, broken glass, and in one case a loaded gun in a bra. Any one of these items could have been used to seriously injure me or kill me, and I'm damn glad I found them. The worst was a 4" sheathed knife in a woman's cooch that she kept for "protection". Far more courageous woman than I will ever be!

I'm also looking for drugs - crack, powder cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and in recent years, prescription drugs. These are smuggled in for either personal use during incarceration or for trade for other items. It should be pretty obvious why we don't allow things like this in - I don't want to have to do CPR on you while my Lieutenant explains to your family that you over dosed on smuggled drugs. I would rather not hold your scalp onto your head so your brain fluid doesn't leak out when your room mate beat the hell out of you to get to your drugs. It is not just an illegal thing, but it is a safety thing. These things happen, and I take it very seriously to ensure I do everything I can to prevent it.

I also search for other types of contraband - cell phones, jewelery, etc. Anything that can either be used as a make shift weapon, or used against you. Again, I would rather not explain to your grieving family why you have a closed head injury over a diamond ring you smuggled into the jail in your cooch. I get it, jewelery has sentimental value. I guarantee I will log your property and it will be locked in a vault until you are released and pick it up. While you may only be there on a traffic warrant, the girl next to you in the holding cell may have an extensive criminal history and have no qualms about jacking you up to get that ring. Hell she could probably get $50 at the pawn shop and pay for her next three days fix when she gets out. It's not worth it.

So when I do a strip search, I am looking for ANYTHING that doesn't belong. I have found pretty much anything you would think someone has smuggled in. I ALWAYS give the female the opportunity to tell me if she has anything illicit on them before I do the strip search. If you are honest and tell me, then the item is removed and no harm and no foul. If you lie to me and I find it, now you have a new felony charge of Introduction of Contraband into a Secure Facility. I am always fair, and if you are straight up with me I won't jam you up.

But I have one strip search that I will never be able to top. If and when I ever write a book, I'm thinking the title is going to be, "Remove The Avocado". I will detail the conversation between this inmate and me, so ya'll can get a clear picture of what I experienced. For this conversation, I will denote ME as "M" and the Inmate as "I" so there is no confusion. As a protection measure, I digitally tape record all strip searches so there is a measure of safety if a complaint is filed or if I am assaulted (which has happened). This is a verbatim transcript of my interaction with this inmate, and *warning* does contain strong and graphic language.

M: Ok Ms. XXXXX, I am going to be completing a strip search on you to ensure you have no weapons or contraband. If you have something you are not supposed to, this is your one and only chance to be honest and not be charged. If you lie and I find something, you will be receiving a new Felony charge.

I: Why you gotta be like that? Is it because I'm black?!

M: Ma'am, your race has absolutely nothing to do with me not wanting a weapon coming into my facility. Everyone with the same type of charges you have is subjected to a strip search, and I deal with people of all races on a daily basis. Are you stalling because you have a weapon or drugs?

I: I don't got shit! Don't accuse me of that bull shit! I don't want to do this strip search.

M: Well ma'am, your cooperation with this process is greatly appreciated but is not necessary. Because of your unwillingness to cooperate and your behavior I have reason to believe that you are concealing something and would appreciate if you would be honest so we can move on with the process.

I: What happens if I refuse to submit to the strip?

M: Well if you refuse, several officers are going to come in here and we are going to put you into a four point restraint chair, which will not allow you to move at all to prevent you from accessing or discarding any items you might have. Then we are going to contact the on duty Judge and have an emergency court order signed that mandates you to submit to the strip search, for every one's safety. If you still refuse, you will be charged with Contempt of Court and Failure to Comply on top of your other charges. From there you will be taken to the local hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital with you and our court order, you will be subjected to a complete medical exam, to include a physical exam and x-rays. This will all be billed to you personally, whether you have insurance or not, and you will be responsible for paying the bill, which I understand runs about $1500.00. IF something is found, it will be removed by medical professionals and you will be charged with a couple new felonies. If nothing is found, you will still be charged with contempt and fail to comply. It really is up to you, but it is much easier to just complete the strip here, and there are consequences for not complying.

I: Fine, I'll do your damn strip search. This is bull shit.

M: Ma'am I understand that this is uncomfortable. Just follow my directions and it will be over quickly. Do you have anything on you that I need to know about?

I: I ain't got nothin'! Just do what you need to do and get over it.

******We go through the strip process, where the female removes one piece of clothing at a time and hands it to me. I physically search each item and set it aside before moving along to the next item. Once the female has removed all of her clothing, I instruct her to turn and face away from me towards the wall, bend over at the waist, and spread her butt cheeks*******

I: This is so humiliating, are we done yet? Would you treat your mother like this?

M: Ma'am I understand that this is uncomfortable, we are almost done. I need you to spread your legs, and spread your butt cheeks.

*****This is done to check to see if they have anything hidden in their ass. While not a common method for women, it does happen******

M: Ok ma'am, I need you to squat down, as if in a catchers position, and take your hands and spread your butt cheeks. When you do this I want you to cough three times really hard, like you had a bad cold.

*****As the woman does this, I notice something in the cooch that just doesn't belong. My mind is going through it's mental Kodak file and mentally eliminating what it might be; Not a weapon, not drugs, not jewelery.... what the hell is that?!*******

M: Put your hands on the back of your head and don't move. I see you have something in your vagina that you are trying to hide. If you try to move to remove it, I will take that as a threat to my safety and will restrain you, do you understand?

I: Yeah, I understand. I ain't gonna hurt you, it's an avocado.

M: ................... a what?

I: An avocado, you know like you eat?

M: O...k.... why do you have an avocado in your cooch?!

I: 'Cause I've been to jail before and I didn't want to go hungry. I know ya'll have served dinner and I didn't want to go hungry before breakfast.

M: Just to clarify, you were afraid we weren't going to feed you, so you shoved an avocado in your cooch so you would have something to eat?

I: Yeah, that's right. I don't wanna go hungry while I'm in here, it's just food.

************Now I'm a complete smart ass. Usually I control it and am professional around inmates and only share my well honed wit with my co-workers. This time I couldn't help myself, it came out before I could catch it*******

M: So did you bring tortilla chips too? Were you gonna eat the avocado whole or make some guac for us?

I: (Laughing) That's fucked up!

M: I'm sorry, but this is the first time I've had to deal with an avocado. Do you have anything else on you?

I: No, just that, I swear. I ain't gonna fuck you you or nothin', you're cool.

M: *sigh* Ok, I can't believe I am going to say this, but reach in and remove the avocado out and hand it to me.

Now the sad part is, we had to get her some KY Jelly from the nurse to get that puppy out. This wasn't some small baby avocado, it was maybe slightly smaller than average size - It had to take some work to get that up in there. She got that baby out though, and I finished my strip search. She was much more cooperative after that, but I will NEVER live this down. I got avocados and guacamole in my box for weeks afterwards. I must have some sort of Avocado PTSD because I can't even look at guac anymore.

And being the nice officer I am, I even got her a sack lunch so she didn't go hungry. I've been doing this job for several years, and by far this is my top "You found what?!" strip search story. I just should never have to tell a woman to remove an avocado from her cooch. Seriously!!

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