Scan & Frisk on the horizon?

This image is from a recent test the NYPD conducted using an officer carrying a concealed handgun 11 meters away. "You get a sense of why we're so hopeful about this tool," Commissioner Kelly said.

In his State of the NYPD speech this morning at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Commissioner Ray Kelly discussed new technology in development that may be used to scan people for concealed firearms.

The device detects “terahertz,” a natural radiation emitted by people and objects, according to Kelly. If the radiation is blocked, by a gun or other object, the device will highlight the blockage.

“Right now the technology is being tested with encouraging results at thew NYPD range Rodman’s Neck in the Bronx,” Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne reported.

The device was too big and its range too small at first, but it now seems promising that it could be used in a truck to “clearly” detect concealed weapons on passersby “from greater distances,” Browne said.

The NYPD expects to use the device “not in the distant future,” he added.

Browne did not comment on whether the scanner could be used to phase out the controversial Stop-and-Frisk policy, or whether passersby would be aware that they were being scanned.

New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman expressed both concern and hope.

“Any technology that allows police to peer into a person’s body or possessions raises a lot of questions that have yet to be resolved,” Lieberman said. “But to the extent that this technology reduces the abuse of
stop-and-frisk that harms hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every
year, we’re intrigued by the possibilities.”


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