Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fort Worth cops used roadblock to gather cheek swabs, blood draws for federal research project

Here's a revolting development: Law enforcement performing roadblocks where private contractors perform cheek swabs and breathalyzer tests on behalf of the federal government. reported yesterday that:
Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood.

It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.

"It just doesn't seem right that you can be forced off the road when you're not doing anything wrong," said Kim Cope, who said she was on her lunch break when she was forced to pull over at the roadblock on Beach Street in North Fort Worth.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said participation was "100 percent voluntary" and anonymous.

But Cope said it didn't feel voluntary to her -- despite signs saying it was.

"I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn't let me and forced me into a parking spot," she said.

Once parked, she couldn't believe what she was asked next.

"They were asking for cheek swabs," she said. "They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that."

At the very least, she said, they wanted to test her breath for alcohol.

She said she felt trapped.

"I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave," she said, adding she received no money.

Fort Worth police earlier said they could not immediately find any record of officer involvement but police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Peel said Tuesday that the department's Traffic Division coordinated with the NHTSA on the use of off-duty officers after the agency asked for help with the survey.

"We are reviewing the actions of all police personnel involved to ensure that FWPD policies and procedures were followed," he said. "We apologize if any of our drivers and citizens were offended or inconvenienced by the NHTSA National Roadside Survey."
FWPD demonstrated poor judgment in cooperating with this effort. If it was performed by off-duty officers in uniform, it seems like an even more egregious abuse of their authority than if it'd been part of their official duties. Either way, police roadblocks that stop every driver are an abomination from a civil liberties perspective and a waste of manpower from the point of view of maximizing benefits from limited police resources. Using them for an Obama Administration research project that doesn't even pretend to promote law-enforcement goals is just a flat-out outrage. They may call it "voluntary," but when a cop tells you to pull over, no reasonable driver would think ignoring them was a viable option.

CNN reported earlier this year that the same thing is happening in other states. One wonders how many other Texas jurisdictions participated in the NHTSA survey and what the feds will do with the data collected?

MORE: From Unfair Park.


Anonymous said...

FWPD tried to cover up their officers involvement when they claimed ignorance. Police departments require their officers to get department approval for off duty work especially when it involves using department vehicles to do the job.

Anonymous said...

If I hired police officers to stop drivers my company would be liable regardless of whom I contracted for. This has class-action written all over it. While the government employees enjoy protection and may be exempt from damages when performing their duties while on the clock, these officers are not afforded the same protections when moonlighting so they are also free game.

Anonymous said...

This was started by the Bush Administration:

2007 National Roadside Survey of
Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers

Michael said...

3:12 PM but the Obama administration continues the practice.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter who started it, it needs to be stopped. If it was voluntary, they should have put signs up instead of forcing drivers off the road. This whole thing stinks, and questions need to be asked.

Anonymous said...

Actually this program was first created in 1973 by the Nixon administration just months after he created the DEA:

rodsmith said...

My response to the little Nazi wannabee's would be.

"Good thing you have 60 bucks. You can put it toward your hospital bill. You will be getting if you don't get your ass out of in front of my car in 20 sec's. "

The Homeless Cowboy said...

really anon 3:12? "This is Bush's fault and your'e a racist"?? and NO anon 5:07 Nixon didn't start this type of thing either, he simply restarted and remodeled programs that were started by Adolph Hitler and his merry band of schlep sticks back in the 1940's.
It is a desensitizing technique used to get people used to obeying authority figures and not questioning strong arm government tactics. It also allows them to begin data-basing the citizenry.

My comment? Be Afwaid, Be Vewy Vewy Afwaid.

Anonymous said...

Homeless Cowboy, you hit it right on the head!!! Hail Hitler aka Qbama