Something strange happened on the roads in Alabama this past weekend: authorities set up roadblocks at several locations and asked drivers to give blood and DNA samples. It turns out, though, that it wasn’t quite as Big Brother-ish as it sounded. Instead, it was an anonymous, paid, volunteer gig, and people could refuse to participate.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (“PIRE”) was collecting blood and DNA samples from people in St. Clair and Bibb, which are two Alabama counties. PIRE got law enforcement help from sheriffs in this effort because it was conducting a study on behalf of the National Highway Safety Administration. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community affairs specifically tagged St. Clair for the study this year because it had participated in a similar study in 2007.