Canine sniff searches of employees for contraband at New York City jails are unconstitutional, the correction officers union said in a new lawsuit against the city filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.
A new order issued by the city Department of Corrections in June authorized the use of dogs to search both employees and visitors, and requires employees to submit to a pat frisk or strip search if they alert the dog's nose, the lawsuit said.
The new policy also says any employees who refuse a search will be suspended, arrested for obstructing governmental administration and searched on that basis, according to the complaint, which says the new policy violates the Constitution and state law.
The new policy comes amid a campaign by correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte to crack down on massive smuggling of drugs and weapons at Rikers Island and other jails, which the city has identified as a prime cause of violence.
A spokesman for the city's law department said, "We'll review the lawsuit once we are served."