Washington Post opinion blogger Radley Balko is calling out San Diego police over a raid of the Cheetahs strip club in Kearny Mesa, saying: “Instead of sending a few bureaucrats to do the paperwork, the city of San Diego thought it appropriate to send a team of gun-toting cops to raid the place.”

Reported earlier by 10News, the San Diego ABC affiliate, the incident was criticized by club manager Rich Buonantony.

Cheetahs strip club in Kearny Mesa. Image from  cheetahssd.com.
Cheetahs strip club in Kearny Mesa. Image from cheetahssd.com.

“I didn’t know if it was a bank robbery or serial killer on the loose the way they had come in like that,” Buonantony said of the Thursday night raid “when 10 officers swarmed the building with guns and bulletproof vests, interrupting business for a couple of hours,” 10News said.

A Cheetahs blog also noted the incident, saying: “Not only did the police waste the tax contributions of the hard-working people of San Diego by funding the expense of 10 officers in an armed raid, they violated the dancers’ privacy in the process. Those who weren’t already half-naked were stripped down, and along with the other dancers verbally interrogated and photographed for police records.”

The raid cleared the club of customers, “some of which may never return,” Cheetahs said. “Will we be reimbursed for this loss of business? No, is the short answer.”

San Diego police spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer was quoted as saying in a statement:

One of the many responsibilities of the San Diego Police Department’s Vice Unit is to conduct random inspections of strip clubs to ensure dancers are complying with the law and that they have an entertainers permit. In most cases, Vice Unit detectives do not require or request clubs to shut down. Photographs of the entertainers permit and the person in possession of it are taken for investigative purposes.

Blogger Balko also had questions for the TV station:

It’s also puzzling why the TV station felt obligated to protect the identities of the police officers. If this was truly just a regulatory inspection, the cops wouldn’t be undercover officers. So what’s the point? This seems to be to be a pretty questionable use of that sort of force. … There’s a strong argument that journalists should make every effort to expose the identities of officers who use force in questionable ways, not go out of their way to obscure them.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, some 125 comments were posted on the Washington Post blog, with one theorizing: “This was not a ‘raid’ to check for licenses/ permits. They more than likely had a tip that something or someone else was there (illegal activity of some sorts) and this was a way to check and or bust. They simply used this ‘reason’ as to their purpose there. No need for a warrant for this purpose.”