State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) filed legislation on Monday to ban state and local police from participating in traffic checkpoints conducted by private contractors in Tennessee.
The legislation aims to stop any prospective checkpoints conducted by private research contractors, including those hired by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, from doing random checkpoint DNA tests on Tennessee drivers.
The practice has been reported in at least 30 U.S. cities where drivers said they were pressured into providing saliva samples or to submit to a blood test. Effected drivers claim they were forced off the road by employees of the contractor who were accompanied by local law enforcement agencies with flashing lights for a supposedly “voluntary” DNA tests.
“There is no way a non-governmental checkpoint should be allowed in Tennessee or any other state,” said Senator Bell. “They certainly should not be pulling over motorists and coercing them to submit to a test without cause. This is a gross abuse of power.”
The private contractor must have a police presence in order to effectively pull over motorists. By banning state and local police participation, the bill would make such a random dragnet almost impossible in Tennessee.
“This practice defies our citizens’ constitutional rights,” said Senator Bell, “not to speak of the fact that millions of dollars of public monies are being spent in this manner.”
Senator Bell represents District 9 consisting of Bradley, Meigs, Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties in the Tennessee Senate. The legislature is set to return to Nashville to conduct business tomorrow.