Published November 21, 2013

A Texas police chief apologized Wednesday for allowing uniformed (but off-duty) cops to take part in a federal highway survey that required breath samples, saliva swabs or blood draws from unsuspecting motorists.

Motorists in the Fort Worth area told The Star-Telegram that police should not have taken part in the survey. Some motorists complained of feeling strong-armed into participating after being greeted by a roadblock of police, being led into a parking lot and approached by people in lab coats.

“I agree with our citizens’ concerns and I apologize for our participation,” Chief Jeffrey Halstead said in a statement “Any future federal survey of this nature, which jeopardizes the public’s trust, will not be approved for the use of Fort Worth police.”

The survey was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The survey is done every 10 years or so and was reportedly intended to determine the prevalence of alcohol and drug use by drivers. reports that drunken-driving checkpoints are illegal in Texas. The station interviewed one driver, Carl Olund, who said he was pulled over by the police. He said he felt pressured to provide samples of his breath and saliva to the federal workers there. He said he was not told it was voluntary.

“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.”

An internal review at the department is under way.

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