published Monday, January 13th, 2014

Tennessee state senator doesn't want police departments to participate in privately controlled checkpoints

If a state senator has his way, Tennessee police departments won't be allowed to take part in privately controlled checkpoints.

Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, filed legislation today to ban law enforcement offices from participating in such checkpoints. By passing the law, the senator hopes these checkpoints will no longer conduct random DNA tests on Tennessee drivers. These checkpoints are often done by contractors hired by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

According to a news release, drivers in at least 30 U.S. cities say checkpoint workers have pressured them into giving up saliva and blood. Contractors and local police officers have apparently guided drivers off the road using flashing lights.

“There is no way a non-governmental checkpoint should be allowed in Tennessee or any other state,” Bell said in a release. “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."

In the Tennessee Senate, Bell represents District 9, which consists of Bradley, Meigs, Polk, McMinn and Monroe Counties. The legislature is set to return to Nashville on Tuesday.

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