Can a male officer search a female?

I was in the local emergency room last night. I was able to get a ride there but needed transportation back to the shelter I’m staying at. The nurse called the local police department for the transportation. While on the phone she gave dispatch my name, date of birth and my description. Finally they arrived and 2 males showed up. The officer did a quick look in my purse and then told me that he would have to search me. I was always under the impression that a female is supposed to search a female. Keep in mind I was just discharged from the ER.

Asked on July 22, 2017 under Criminal Law, South Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a male officer may pat down a female, although it is preferable to have a female officer perform such search. However, if an officer's safety is potentially at issue and then if no female is available, it is perfectly legal for a male officer to perform a pat down search. A full body search can be conducted back at the station.

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