Roadside Cavity Searches: Saving Law Enforcement From Themselves, Again

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An Open Letter to Director Steven McCaw, Texas Department of Public Safety

After watching yet another roadside body cavity search for marijuana by Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers on national television, I have to point out the obvious. These searches are not outlier events but they call into question the culture of law enforcement made worse by our quest to eradicate drug use in our society. And though your swift response in firing the female trooper is commendable, it merely staunches the flow of blood on an open festering wound.

Incidents such as this are indicative of a much larger problem within law enforcement. It is the failure of our leaders to address what the issue really is. We don’t have rogue troopers, we have a rogue policy. Law enforcement is at a critical juncture in our society.

“We don’t have rogue troopers, we have a rogue policy.”

As a direct result of the Drug War, our communities have seen the escalation of unethical police tactics based on “the ends justifying the means.” These tactics are an attempt to achieve the rhetorical and unattainable goal of a drug-free America. This Machiavellian influence has now contributed to the theory of “Noble Cause” corruption in our ranks. I believe this is an oxymoron as corruption can never be noble but it is defined as “corruption committed in the aim of good end.”



In an article in the Police Chief, the author theorizes that “noble cause corruption is rooted in this sense of arrogance, in which officers will rationalize constitutional violations for their own perceived greater good: a safer community.” I don’t disagree with him, yet even our police leaders continue to ignore the true cause of these abhorrent constitutional violations by taking a micro view of the problem, versus diagnosing the true extent of the Drug War on law enforcement professionalization.

It should not be surprising to our law enforcement leaders that after advocating for a war on our constituents that we have a blatant disregard for their civil liberties. It is this group think process that continues to mire us in America’s longest war. Criminal justice professionals and academics alike have studied law enforcement corruption ad nauseam but until our law enforcement leaders become stakeholders in ending bad policy there is no amount of training that will eliminate unconstitutional policing such as this.


Diane Wattles-Goldstein
(Ret.) Lt. Redondo Beach, CA Police Department