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HB 4071 would require a peace officer to obtain a search warrant before performing a body cavity search during an investigative detention. According to the bill, "body cavity search" means "an inspection that is conducted of a
person's anal or vaginal cavity in any manner, including by visual
inspection, digital probing, x-ray, enema, or colonoscopy".
If a body cavity search would occur, the search must be performed in a private, sanitary place and in compliance with medically recognized hygienic practices.
The bill would establish that a peace officer who obtains
protected health information in the course of conducting such a body cavity
search is subject to the same confidentiality requirements and penalties as a
covered entity under Health and Safety Code provisions relating to medical
records privacy. A law enforcement agency would be liable for any medical expenses incident to the body cavity search.
In the past few years, the Department of Public Safety has settled numerous cases in regard to police officers conducting body cavity searches. Currently, DPS is being sued by a citizen over this issue. As the previously linked article describes, abuses by the hands of law enforcement are gross violations of individual liberty and have serious emotional and sometimes physical consequences. No citizen should ever have to fear this from a peace officer of the state of Texas.
If an officer feels strongly that a body cavity is being used to conceal contraband or possible evidence to a crime, then the officer may detain the suspect and request a warrant.
This bill would help prevent peace officers from conducting invasive searches that lead them to be liable to lawsuits. These lawsuits cost the taxpayers money, thus increasing spending by the government. These invasive searches are contrary to our fourth amendment rights according to the US Constitution. This legislation would prevent peace officers from violating the individual liberty of citizens from invasive searches that many reasonably view as sexual assault. This would furthermore uphold the due process rights of the individual.