By Stephanie A. Miller, The Arizona Republic March 10, 2001 Saturday, Final Chaser Copyright 2001 Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. The Arizona Republic March 10, 2001 Saturday, Final Chaser
(PARADISE ALLEY, Ariz.) -- A claim for $500,000 has been filed against the Town of Paradise Valley by a woman who says her rights were violated when photos of her partially naked body were taken by a male police officer during an investigation.
Although there is no law that requires police agencies to use an officer of the opposite sex to take a victim's photo, the law does acknowledge the right to privacy, said Keith Knowlton, an attorney for Laura Myers, who was a resident of Paradise Valley when the incident occurred in November.
The claim states that during a domestic violence investigation police violated Myers' right to privacy after she objected to a male police officer taking the pictures of possible injuries.
There were no arrests in that incident.
An internal investigation is being conducted into the complaint, Police Chief John Wintersteen said.
Although the department has only one female reserve officer, efforts have been made to recruit female officers, Wintersteen said.
The efforts have been unsuccessful because of the lack of candidates who have applied or qualify for the position, he said.
"Our position is that what they did was unreasonable," Knowlton said. "Even though the officer was trying to gather evidence, the way he did it was not a way to respect her privacy when there were reasonable alternatives available," he said.
"The Paradise Valley Police Department is not set up to gather evidence of sexual assault or domestic violence or prepared to protect women, and that's wrong. In 2001, that should not happen."
Several other Valley police departments have trained female staff to take photos or provide support for victims who make such requests, according to Tracey Wilkinson, coordinator of the domestic violence action team for Scottsdale.
"I think the victim should be treated with respect because it's a basic human right," Wilkinson said.
The notice of claim seeks $500,000 as compensation "for her humiliation and the deprivation of her constitutional rights."