Commissioner Ray Kelly announced on Wednesday that the New York Police Department (NYPD) will roll out portable radiation scanners in high-crime areas to search for concealed firearms. Speaking to guests at a Police Foundation event at the Waldorf-Astoria, Kelly detailed the use of scan-and-frisk technologies.
According to the New York Daily News‘ Rocco Parascandola, the NYPD recently received a terahertz radiation scanner, which can detect metal objects by scanning for radiation between the microwave and infrared bands. “If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object […] We still have a number of trials to run before we can determine how best to deploy this technology. We’re also talking to our legal staff about this. But we’re very pleased with the progress we’ve made over the past year,” Kelly told attendees.
The NYPD’s scanner is currently in the testing phase and can be either mounted on a tripod-like apparatus on the street or used from a police van. Kelly said the scanner technology is based on a similar scanner used by the London Metropolitan Police, and was modified for the NYPD’s needs by an unnamed contractor.
Safety concerns have been raised about DNA damage from terahertz radiation; a 2009 study linked terahertz scanners to possible health dangers. Writing about an earlier version of the scanner tested by the London Metropolitan Police in 2003, The Guardian‘s Ian Semple also raised possible modesty concerns; a publicity photo obtained by the Daily News only showed a scanned suspect from the side. The scanners aren’t the only innovations the NYPD is using to fight crime: Fast Company recently reported on a new NYPD-Microsoft surveillance system partnership and on the NYPD’s iPhone app.