D.C. police officials have taken steps to inform officers and the community that possession of large quantities condoms is not grounds for stopping and searching someone on suspicion of engaging in prostitution.
An official police department clarification of its “condom” policy came in response to concerns raised by a coalition of LGBT, AIDS and human rights groups that individual officers were threatening to arrest people, including transgender women, on prostitution-related charges if they were found to have more than three condoms in their possession.
“The MPD supports the distribution of condoms to help prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,” says a card bearing the police department logo that the department is now distributing in the community.
“Individuals are allowed to carry as many condoms as they want,” the card says. “There is no ‘three condom rule.’ MPD officers cannot conduct a stop and search of a person or premises based on whether or not that person possesses condoms.”
The coalition that called on the department to make the clarification includes The Women’s Collective, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), D.C. Appleseed, D.C. Trans Coalition, AIDS United and Human Rights Watch.
“Last July, Human Rights Watch released research that documented instances of police confiscating condoms or threatening to use safe sex materials as evidence of criminal activity, primarily prostitution,” the coalition said in a statement. “By distributing these cards, MPD clarifies that the police support public health interventions and will not interfere with condom possession and distribution,” the statement says.