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Pocket Protector

U.S. Customs inspectors get up close and personal.


Last week, New York cops began receiving those handy preprinted courtesy cards reminding them to respect civilians and even call a perp "sir." And while the forms -- printed on white bond paper and sized for a patrolman's memo book -- are new to the NYPD, other law-enforcement agents are already familiar with such palm-size crib sheets.

U.S. Customs Service inspectors, responsible for drug interdiction at area ports, mail facilities, and airports, are issued a two-sided, four-paneled plastic wallet insert containing various agency policies and procedures. Along with offering the Miranda warning in four languages, the Customs card guides investigators through the dos and don'ts of the most sensitive of criminal probes -- strip and cavity searches.

While reminding inspectors to "Think Courtesy," since the person being searched is "a human being and must be treated as such," the card also contains a detailed flow chart tracking a "routine inspection" from the "mere suspicion" stage -- where a pat-down is conducted -- to the point where more . . . intrusive governmental measures may be required.

For more intriguing documents, visit 'The Smoking Gun' online at


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