Assembly approves bill expanding strip search authority

MADISON — The Wisconsin Assembly has approved a bill that would expand authorities' ability to conduct strip searches.

Currently, anyone arrested or detained on suspicion of a crime that isn't a felony can be strip-searched if the person will be held with others for at least 12 hours. The Republican bill would remove the 12-hour requirement.

Republicans say the bill would increase safety for inmates and guards. Democrats have questioned how Republicans could expand strip searches despite police abuses. In January, Milwaukee's city council approved a $5 million settlement with 74 black men who alleged they were subjected to illegal strip and body cavity searches by police.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote Thursday, February 18th.

The measure cleared the Senate last month. It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.