Friday, April 13, 2007

ACLU against airport pervs

Atlanta police peek in airport toilet stalls as part of search for indecency

Police say they're peeking into stalls inside the bathrooms at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, searching for men who are using the public restrooms to have sex or engage in other indecent behavior.

The head of the Atlanta Police Department's airport unit told the local newspaper that "his precinct late last year began using plainclothes officers to patrol the restrooms searching for luggage thieves. But those patrols, he said, resulted in an increased number of incidental busts for indecent exposure, including the high-profile arrest of Ed Wall, chairman of the MARTA board of directors."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says 26 people have been charged since January with engaging in indecent behavior in the airport's toilets. The ACLU says police are within their rights, as passengers don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place.

The Associated Press is careful to note that Atlanta's not the only airport with restroom-related arrests.

"Former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry was ordered to pay $35,000 in damages to a custodian who said he shoved her and exposed himself to her in a bathroom at Baltimore-Washington International Airport in 2000," the wire service says. "A year later, a county judge in Michigan was arrested at Detroit Metro Airport for allegedly exposing himself to an undercover officer, although a district attorney decided not to prosecute."

Police say one reason for the spike in arrests is the popularity of social networking sites that include postings from people who want to have casual sex with complete strangers.

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