PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A sheriff apologized Thursday to a pair of female lawyers who were told they needed to take off their underwire bras at jail to avoid setting off the metal detector if they wanted to talk to their incarcerated clients.
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said he accepts “complete responsibility” for the actions of deputies who spoke with the women. The women refused to comply with the request and left.
Joyce said he didn’t give deputies proper guidance on how to handle such a situation. In the future, deputies will resolve similar situations using a metal detecting wand, he said.
“I’ve already offered my personal apologies,” Joyce said. “It was never my intention, nor that of the officers involved, to embarrass anyone.”
Joyce also said that the possibility of contraband slipping into the jail is a serious concern and that is why jail workers take security scans very seriously. He said safety levels will remain high at the jail.
There is still an ongoing investigation into how long deputies have been preventing lawyers from entering the jail unless they take off their bras, Joyce said.
Amy Fairfield, one of the two attorneys, said she appreciates the apology but would have preferred it never happened in the first place. She said more than 20 other women have complained to her about unfair treatment by deputies at the metal detector since the story went public.
“There are many, many other women who have endured what I did,” Fairfield said. “There’s definitely a chain of command issue here.”