Posts tagged “roadblocks

Roadblocks, Buccal Swabs, and Big Brother-Policing


Over the course of the past week, SF has received a handful of inquiries concerning a bizarre, new law enforcement tactic: stopping motorists at roadblocks and then asking — some would say demanding —  that driver’s submit to have the interior of their mouths swabbed.

Yesterday, RT reported that the LAPD will set-up roadblocks and supposedly ask motorists to “consent to a voluntary portable oral fluids test of their gum line and cheeks” on New Year’s Eve.

Some of those who’ve contacted SF asked how such roadblocks and searches could take place in the United States — in “the supposed the land of the free.”  Another wrote that “roadblocks are something I’d expect to see in China, not in America.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, however, sees roadblocks differently.  In the summer of 1990, the high court held, by a 6-3 vote, that “sobriety checkpoints” (i.e. roadblocks) were legal.  This decision was more or less authored by now deceased Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who was raised in Shorewood, Wisconsin; whereby, the court held that roadblocks did, in essence, violate the Fourth Amendment, but this violation of the Bill of Rights is minor.

Ironically, when the government violates the Bill of Rights for the ‘public good’ the courts pretty much cover for its agents.  That being said could one only imagine what would happen to a citizen, like Edward Snowden, should they make a similar argument in court.  After all, Snowden proved that officials from the Obama administration and the NSA had lied, under oath, to members of Congress. A hunch tells me that, should he ever return to the United States, the Supreme Court will not be as kind to him as they were to roadblocks.

As far as the use of buccal swabs to gather evidence at roadblocks, this is a fairly recent law enforcement phenomenon.  In a previous post, SF spotlighted some of these highly controversial stops, which appear to be funded, in part, by grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

NHTSA is a bureaucratic agency the continually lobbies Congress to pass more intrusive, Big Brother-type laws.  Earlier this year, NHTSA demanded that automakers install “black boxes” in each vehicle that record virtually every function of the driver.  Police officers will soon be provided equipment, paid for with federal grant money, to search these boxes whenever an exigent circumstance presents itself (i.e. an accident or a moving violation) or with a court order.  Earlier this year, NHTSA announced its support to have the alcohol limit lowered to .05 percent of blood alcohol content.

Under the proposed NHTSA guidelines, a 180 pound man, who has not eaten a full meal, would reach 0.05 after consuming three beers in 90 minutes.  A 135 pound woman, who had not eaten a full meal, would near 0.05 if she consumed two beers in 90 minutes.

In all reality, unless something changes, the writing — about where all of this is heading — is already on the wall: absolute sobriety for ALL persons operating a motor vehicle of any kind and the collection of human DNA by the government at birth.  SF predicts that, should present technological trends go unchecked by lawmakers, and public complacency continues, these two laws will be on the books in most states by 2025.

Note: In Wisconsin, state law currently prohibits law enforcement from using roadblocks.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

It’s Time to Stop Feeding the Beast

Manipulation has always been a part of politics.  Remember the anti-Barry Goldwater ad showing an atomic bomb exploding while a young girl played with a flower?  How about the famed Willie Horton spot employed by Bush 41?

At the federal government level, however, the strategy of playing to one’s fears and stretching the truth has been replaced by subterfuge and outright lies.

First, there is the Obama administration’s argument that having the NSA seize the data on over 280 million Americans’ cellular telephones does not equate to domestic spying.  The NSA’s own charter restricts the agency to gathering information on foreign nationals, not American citizens on American soil. Why then did the Obama administration use a foreign intelligence surveillance court to obtain data on American citizens?

Only a “secret” court using apparently “secret” rules would approve a request from the government seeking swaths of information in order to conduct a fishing expedition.  The Fourth Amendment requires that a court order be signed by a magistrate, and supported by Oath or affirmation, “particularly” describing the alleged offense, the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.  In the case of the metadata seizure, the government, according to a Federal Judge Richard Leon, has not met this burden.  In fact, when asked, the government could not provide any information to Judge Leon about a single terrorist act that the collection of metadata had prevented.

And unlike the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Smith v. Maryland, the metadata obtained by the NSA does more than simply record telephone numbers in a pen register.  Cellular telephone technology enables the NSA to track a user’s location and to geo-tag, via GPS and tower triangulation, the person being called. Granted, while the actual telephone records might be owned by a third party (Verizon, Sprint, etc.), the device itself, which emits its location, is owned and operated by the user.  Common sense dictates that Americans, absent their consent, have a reasonable expectation to privacy when it comes to their location, unless the government can show that an individual is involved in criminal activity. Absent this showing, the NSA’s metadata collection is little more than domestic spying.

The government’s thrust for the metadata of Americans is just one example of a federal government out of control.  Using grant money to hook the local police into a culture of control and surveillance, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) have ushered in a new phase of Orwell’s America.

In late November, an NBC affiliate in Texas reported, “Police officers in Fort Worth, Texas, set up a roadblock on a busy city street last week, and directed motorists into a parking lot, where they were asked to submit samples of their breath, saliva and blood.”

The non-consensual roadblock that unduly interpreted the lives of every day Americans was funded by a NTSA grant.  Its purpose, according to the news report, was to gather “random sampling…to determine how many motorists are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

In Redding, Pennsylvania, local police and a federal contractor conducted a similar operation.  “A private firm,” reports the Redding Eagle, “with a federal contract – and backed up by city police – forced motorists off Laurel Street and into a private parking lot Friday to question them about their driving habits and ask for a swab of their mouth.”

One individual, whose was detained even though he had violated no law, was Ricardo Nieves, who told the Redding City Council, “I feel this incident is a gross abuse of power on many levels.”

“The checkpoint” according to the newspaper, “was supposed to be voluntary, but Nieves said he had to refuse several times over a five-minute period before the woman taking the survey let him go.”

Is this the same America that was once the home of the FREE or does this type of conduct eerily resemble that of the police state in the People’s Republic of China?

The federal government is the equivalent of a 600 pound man whose size is set to cause a cataclysmic death.  Only one thing can save him: calorie restriction.  And with our elected officials in the tank for the security-industrial complex and their well-connected lobbyist on K Street, our freedoms and prosperity will soon be crushed unless we stop feeding the beast.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013