Recently, some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock, and were directed into a parking lot, and were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva, and even blood. Though the stops remained relatively controversial, they functioned as part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has spent $7.9 million on the survey over a three year period. To alleviate the fears that officers were stopping all drivers on the road, all stops recorded were “100 percent voluntary” as well as anonymous. One driver stated that the officers were “asking for cheek swabs,” stating that they would offer ten dollars. Also, if you submitted to a blood test, $50 would be offered.
Fort Worth police earlier claimed they cannot immediately find any record of officer involvement but police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Peel said Tuesday that the department Traffic Division coordinated with the NHTSA on the use of off-duty officers on the use of off-duty officers after the agency asked to aide with the survey.
One Fort Worth resident, Kim Cope told local affiliate NBC DFW that it didn’t feel voluntary.
“It doesn’t seem right that you can be forced off the road when you’re not doing anything wrong,” said Cope.
Cope also claims that she tried to gesture to the one of the officials that she wanted to continue on, but they forced her into a parking spot. She added that she was “shocked” when they started asking for cheek swabs and blood samples, and ended up taking a Breathalyzer test to cut down on the timing of the ordeal.
“We are reviewing the actions of all police personnel involved to ensure that FWPD policies and procedures were followed,” said Ft. Worth Police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Peel said. “We apologize if any of our drivers and citizens were offended or inconvenienced by the NHTSA National Roadside Survey.”
Surely no foul play was intended on the part on behalf of the NHTSA or Fort Worth police. For the most part, drivers were paid and it seemed that no one was arrested for any infractions.