PUYALLUP, Wash. — The Puyallup Police Department faces accusations that detainees who were being held on suspicion of DUI were instructed to strip naked and use toilets in a room that contained a hidden camera, which reportedly allowed police to leer at the videos.
The Police Department denied the accusations, saying officers were following normal jail surveillance procedures.
In a lawsuit brought against the city, the law office of attorney James Egan alleges officers violated detainees’ federal and state rights by placing cameras in the women’s restroom for the past two and a half years. The lawsuit claims officers also “joked and made sexual comments about the women” while they changed clothes or urinated.
The Puyallup Police Department perpetrated voyeurism crimes, civil rights violations and other crimes with the cameras, the lawsuit says.
None of the women named in the lawsuit was booked into jail after their arrest, and all were released under their own recognizance following the filming. None of the women was aware they were being filmed and none was convicted of a DUI, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit claims more than a dozen women were filmed by police. Pictures and video of the women were obtained by the law firm through public record requests. The lawsuit also claims the city was contacted by the defendants and their lawyers and asked to take the cameras down, but they refused to do so. Surveillance cameras in the women’s restrooms aren’t legal because a pat-down prior to detention adequately enforces contraband law, the lawsuit states.
Many of the women were not aware they were filmed until they were contacted by Egan and his associates, Egan said. One of the plaintiffs, identified as Plantiff #3, said she was shocked and angered when she heard of the video.
“I’m horrified that someone other than my husband has seen me in this position,” she said. “I have been avoiding restrooms in public places for fear someone might be watching me.”
Another plaintiff alleges an officer made a comment about the color of her pubic hair following her detention.