Contentious roadside drug survey may not have followed protocol: documents

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Contentious roadside drug survey may not have followed protocol: documents
Contentious roadside drug survey may not have followed protocol: documents – Oct 24, 2016

WINNIPEG —  It was a bizarre and contentious roadside check stop that left some drivers questioning Manitoba Public Insurance’s methods.

Now documents obtained by Global News show proper protocol may not have been followed during the survey.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 8, drivers were being checked at a roadside stop on Century Avenue and asked the standard “have you been drinking” question by Winnipeg police officers.

READ MORE: Winnipeg drivers asked to voluntarily submit DNA sample for drug testing at checkstop

Gerry Richardson was one of the drivers stopped that night. He later told Global News after being cleared by police, he was asked by the officer if he would voluntarily complete a survey.

Afterwards, he was directed into a neighbouring parking lot where an independent company asked him multiple questions regarding his alcohol and drug usage. He was also asked to submit to a breathalyzer and give a saliva sample. Saliva contains your DNA.

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Questionnaire given to drivers during roadside check stop

According to the Roadside Survey Protocol for Determining the Prevalence of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers prepared for by Transport Canada, and obtained by Global News through a Freedom of Information request, surveys should not be conducted downstream from a police check stop.

“Enforcement and research have conflicting priorities…. there is a possibility that the validity of the research findings would be weakened.”

According to Transport Canada, police are only to direct the next eligible vehicle towards the survey. They are not to speak with the driver.

The Roadside Survey Protocol further goes on to say that when an interviewer is ready for the next possible driver, a traffic coordinator should signal the officer to select the next eligible vehicle from traffic flow and merely direct them into the survey site.

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“The primary function of the police officer is to assist the survey crew by directing vehicles into the survey site. They do not stop the vehicle on the roadway to speak to the driver to explain the survey.”

Richardson said he was asked by police if he would take part in the voluntary survey, which goes against Transport Canada protocol.

MPI declined an interview Monday but did admit that some officers misunderstood their exact role at the beginning of the process. A spokesperson for the Crown corporation insisted it was cleared up after the first night.

The estimated cost of the month long survey blitz is $155,628.

Many Manitobans voiced concerns about submitting to a drug test by providing saliva samples, which contain DNA, without knowing exactly what would happen to those samples.

Global News also obtained a copy of the agreement between MPI and Prairie Research Associates that states “all samples shall be destroyed immediately after analysis” and goes even further to limit any testing which involves “DNA sequencing, profiling… (or) is otherwise related to determining (any) genetic, hereditary or identifying characteristics.”

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