I am usually first to “show off” my ink to friends when I get it, however, I don’t know how quickly I will be rocking the sleeveless shirts this summer after local teens say they’re being wrongly forced to show their tattoos to be photographed by the police.
Montgomery County police have come under attack after it was revealed that it is standard policy for officers to randomly stop teens on the street and photograph them,stating it is an effort to be able to identify gang members from their tattoos.
American University Radio WAMU 88.5 reported Monday:
“Police say there are 34 gangs and more than 1200 gang members in the Montgomery County. One way law enforcement officials address the threat is by stopping and photographing suspected gang members — and keeping a record of identifying characteristics, including tattoos. But in the process, some youth advocates say innocent Latino teens are being harassed. County leaders, police and advocates are trying to balance the needs of public safety with constitutional safeguards.
Nancy, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of retribution, recalls what happened to her. “An officer, he asked me to raise my shirt to see if I had any tattoos or anything,” she says. “I told him no and he had pushed me against the wall I couldn’t say anything at the moment ’cause I was only sixteen.” Nancy says officers didn’t arrest her but took pictures and she doesn’t know where those pictures wound up. Walter, who also did not want to use his last name, says he isn’t a gang member or a criminal either but was pulled over recently. “They didn’t tell me nothing — they just lifted up my shirt and took the pictures,” he says. He hadn’t committed any crime when the police stopped his car, he says. “They pulled me over because they thought one of my cousins who was in the back looked like a runaway youth they was looking for,” he says.
Last month, the county’s Latino youth task force issued a report in December recommending that police review how these stops are being conducted. “There is reason to doubt the constitutionality of the stops and the subsequent searches and photographing of Latino males in the County, due to statements of youth who were stopped,” the group, officially called the Latino Youth Steering Committee, notes in the report.”
Click here to read the whole story on WAMU.