Motorists in Reading, Pa. say they were recently forced off the road by local police, who asked them about their driving and wanted a sample of their saliva.
"I feel this incident is a gross abuse of power on many levels," resident Ricardo Nieves told the Reading City Council Monday, noted the Reading Eagle.
According to Nieves, a private company hired local armed police to wave people off the road for the voluntary cheek swabbing, which felt coerced.
Nieves claims that he refused the swabbing several times before the woman who was taking the swabs allowed him to leave, which may be detaining a motorist without cause.
Nieves added that there was a police car with flashing lights to intimidate motorists.
However, Reading City Police Chief William Heim claimed the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, conducted the actual cheek swabbing.
Chief Heim said the government agencies are studying crashes and injuries, and the swabs were testing for prescription drugs.
He also stated that police were simply there for security because the swab takers were offering money to motorists who agreed to the survey.
Chief Heim aded that police did not pull over motorists and even went as far as to say, "People are not pressured by police presence to do something they don't want to."
According to Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the law may have been broken if the police did pull over motorists.
"A car driver or passenger cannot be required or pressured into providing a DNA sample and, in fact, can't be stopped at all except on suspicion of a crime or for a properly conducted sobriety checkpoint," Roper told the Reading Eagle.
A few weeks ago in Fort Worth, Texas the chief of police apologized to residents because police officers pulled over motorists for blood and saliva tests for the same federal study.
According to Fox News, Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead said, “We realize this survey caused many of our citizens frustration and we apologize for our participation. I agree with our citizens’ concerns and I apologize for our participation. Any future federal survey of this nature, which jeopardizes the public’s trust, will not be approved for the use of Fort Worth police.”
In June, off-duty police in two counties in Alabama were hired by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation to pull motorists off the road and request samples of saliva and blood, reported The Daily Caller.