DNA Checkpoints, which have been held across the United States including Alabama, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Saint Charles County, Missouri have sparked outrage among citizens, elected officials, and the ACLU.
The checkpoints, a federal government program run by a private company subcontracted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been controversial. The program uses off duty uniformed police officers. The NHTSA claims that the officers are used only for security, but at many of the checkpoints police have directed drivers into survey areas where they are asked to submit to breath, blood, or saliva screenings.
After stories of the DNA roadblocks in Saint Charles County, MO hit the news Saint Charles County Sheriff Tom Neer said “Five years ago it would have been a different story. There’re just such strong anti-government feelings among people. Under the circumstances, I would not allow them [Saint Charles County police officers] to do it again. It’s just because of the perception.” Fort Worth, Texas Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead also apologized for using uniformed officers at these roadblocks.
The ACLU say the presence of police officers gives the impression of authority. The ALCU is concerned that drivers may think that with the police presence they are required to participate.
The NHTSA has said that they have been conducting the study for about 40 years in 10 year intervals. They say drivers who refuse to participate are allowed to leave. They have not said whether uniformed police officers were used in the past.
Related Reading: Voluntary Government Checkpoints Cause Backlash (USA Today)
What do you think of using police officers to take breath, saliva, and blood samples for a study for a private company? Answer in the comments section below.