As we reported yesterday, random drivers in Fort Worth, Texas were asked for breath, saliva, and blood samples by police officers. The drivers were stopped and asked for such samples even though they violated no traffic laws.
The stops, which happened on Friday, were done in the name of “government research,” to figure out how many people were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this project cost a whopping $7.9 million over the span of three years.
Now the police chief in Fort Worth has come out and apologized for letting his officers take part in this “survey.”
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.”
NHTSA claimed the study was “voluntary,” but many of the individuals who were pulled over told NBC News that they felt forced to give over samples.
Kim Cope was one of the individuals pulled over. She claims that although officials did not explicitly force her to park and give a Breathalyzer, she felt as though she had no choice.
She said, “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.”
Cope claims the officials then offered her money for various samples. “They were asking for cheek swabs. They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that. I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave.”
Carl Olund, another pulled over driver, said he also felt pressured and was never told it was voluntary.
Olund said, “But she was like up in my window to where I was like, ‘OK, I might as well just stay.’ I mean, the cops are around, so if I take off, I’m not going to have four or five cops chasing me.”
The Forth Worth police station is currently undergoing an internal investigation into the matter.