San Diego's top cop is standing up for her officers named in a lawsuit filed by dancers at a local strip club after a March incident.
Nearly 30 dancers at Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club and Expose claim officers held them against their will and took inappropriate photos of them when they walked into the Kearny Mesa club for a mandatory compliance check.
The lawsuit names the department and San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and claims the dancers’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
During the inspection, officers checked the dancers’ licenses but after that, the women claim the visit went too far.
Attorney Dan Gilleon, who is representing the women and Cheetahs, said photos are not normally part of a routine police inspection at a strip club and are only allowed to be taken if officers are investigating a crime scene.
On Thursday, Zimmerman defended the officers’ actions, “the city's regulations are written to protect the general welfare.
Specifically, the regulations are designed to prevent prostitution, lewd acts, money laundering, organized crime, and the deterioration of neighborhoods."
Chief Zimmerman said only female officers took photographs, which included the entertainers' faces and some tattoos.
Gilleon said the City of San Diego has sent Cheetah’s a letter to revoke its license on the basis that it is allegedly violated the rules for an adult entertainment business.
However, Gilleon argues he has not seen any evidence of this and believes it’s “retaliation” for the women filing a civil rights claim against the police department back in March.
Officers are mandated to conduct inspections and check permits at adult entertainment businesses and officials said documenting tattoos is a critical way to verify a person’s identity.