Omaha, Nebraska - For years, Nebraska State Patrol sent new recruits to a doctor who is accused of administering vaginal and rectal exams on all female recruits he saw. Other doctors are calling the practice medically unnecessary.
New law enforcement recruits are sent to a doctor for medial screening before they are hired in order to determine if they are physically capable of doing the job and to ensure that won't drop dead in the heavy stress of academy training.
The exact methods of the exams are generally left up to the specific contracted doctors. I've had exams which ranged from just asking a couple of questions to two-hour-long physicals with a lot of fancy medical equipment involved. I've spoken with officers who even had a prostate exam during their physical.
The situation in Nebraska seems far different than even the most in-depth evaluation.
The state would send many new recruits to a specific male doctor (who appears to be one of several doctors used,) and that specific doctor would perform an invasive vaginal and rectal exams on the female recruits to "check for hernias," according to the Associated Press.
That doctor did not perform rectal exams on the male recruits.
When other doctors were asked about the procedure, they said that simply pressing on the abdomen was enough to check for hernias, and they called the vaginal and rectal exams medically unnecessary.
State Trooper Brienne Splittgerber submitted to the exam in 2014. She was later told by her family doctor that there was no legitimate purpose for the procedure.
Trooper Splitthgerber says that she told her superiors about what her family doctor said, and the department said that they would launch an investigation. However, the department still sent new female recruits to that same doctor, according to the lawsuit.
Trooper Splitthgerber has now filed a lawsuit against the Nebraska State Patrol, state of Nebraska, two NSP administrators, and others, accusing them of creating a hostile work environment.
When Gov. Pete Ricketts heard about the allegations, he ordered the Chief Human Resources Officer to investigate. That investigation has now transformed into a criminal investigation by the State Patrol.
The "pelvic exams" stopped in December 2016.
An attorney for the Nebraska State Patrol declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.