Yesterday I was running errands around town, and a police car pulled behind me. My eyes quickly darted to my speedometer. I didn’t think I was speeding, but I checked just in case. My eyes kept fluttering between the rearview mirror, the road, and my speedometer. I haven’t had a ticket in 25 years, but for some reason, the presence of a police officer is intimidating.
I’m sure my paranoia is shared by many, even for those of us who have never had a run-in with the law. I’m also pretty sure the government knows that if a police officer is present with flashing lights, while someone is directing you to pull off the road, it’s assumed you had better listen and comply with their requests
With glaring police lights and uniformed officers at the ready, unsuspecting drivers in Reading, Pennsylvania were pulled over into a private parking lot by federal contractors, and asked to give a cheek swab and to participate in a survey. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy commissioned the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation to conduct the sampling, to help determine reasons for accidents and injuries. The Reading police were reportedly hired to assist the contractors.
And while it wasn’t deemed mandatory, such official pageantry likely coerced drivers to relinquish their Fourth Amendment Rights in this instance. After all, you can trust your local police officers, right?
Reading City Police Chief William Heim was quoted in reports, the cheek swab was to “check for prescription drug use.” Why does the government need to know if someone is using prescription drugs? Last I checked, they were legal.
Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania said, “The 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.”
Regardless of the law, a man who was stopped for this survey said he was pressured. The Reading Eagle reports that Ricardo Nieves said he “refused several times over a five minute period” before he was released by the federal contractor conducting the survey.
It’s becoming abundantly clear to me that government has surmised laws do not apply to them, only its citizens.
The city police insisted they were present for security purposes only, and the police did not ask questions. Chief Heim called it a “minor issue.” I submit to you a violation of Constitutional rights is anything but minor.
Unfortunately, this is a growing trend rather than an isolated incident. Recently in Fort Worth Texas, random drivers were asked to submit saliva, blood and breath samples as part of a federal survey. This also happened in Alabama.
These instances, the IRS targeting and the NSA snooping, is enough to make even the most trusting American dabble in conspiracy theory.
While indulging myself with possible scenarios, I wonder if by making these submissions of blood, breath and cheek swab samples voluntary, we are being eased into something more sinister – a law which requires us to abdicate all of our rights to personal information. I can’t come to a conclusion of what kind of diabolical way this information will be used against us, but I do know it’s ultimately about control.
When driving around town again, maybe I won’t cower. Maybe I’ll have a copy of the Constitution handy in case my rights are violated.
There are occasionally checkpoints for registration and driver’s license information where I live. I always assumed a child has been abducted or something sensational. But now, I see too much of a pattern. No, I won’t neurotically keep shifting my eyes from mirror, to speedometer, to road when a police officer pulls in back of my car. I’ll drive confidently, remembering I’m protected by the Constitution, which I plan to keep along with my registration in the glove box.