NYPD Developing Radiation Technology to Scan People for Guns

Radiation scanners mounted on squad cars seems like a scene out of a futuristic science fiction movie. But, if the NYPD and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have their way, it will be a reality sooner than you might think. The agency is working to develop a system of scanners that will identify people on the street who might be strapped with a firearm. While it’s all done in the name of public safety, one has to wonder if the end justifies the means.

The technology is said to work similarly to infrared imaging. The scanners will detect radiation that is emitted from the human body. Because this energy cannot travel through metal, it will be able to identify if that person is carrying a gun, theoretically. Of course, it could raise red flags if they are carrying an iPod, a smart phone, or anything else made with metal.

“This technology has shown a great deal of promise as a way of detecting weapons without a physical search,” says Commissioner Kelly according to the New York Post, who revealed the program in his State of the NYPD address.

Kelly would like to see the technology installed on cop cars in the near future. But, the technology still needs some work.

Currently, the scanners only work from a distance of three to four feet. The department would like to see them work for up to 25 meters, scanning in every which direction from within the comfort of a squad car.

As civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel points out, “It will make an already aggressive policy of stop, question and frisk seem tame.”

The NYPD are already notorious for stopping and frisking disproportionate numbers of minorities, all on the premise that the neighborhoods in which they are found make them more likely to be involved in criminal activity. If a scientifically “sound” device now tells them when someone is carrying a metal object, they could use this potential weapon as justification for treating such innocent citizens as being armed and dangerous.

Photos shown of the new technology do indicate that it does little more than provide a blurry outline of whatever metal object is detected. It’s easy to see how an iPhone, for example, could be mistaken for a small firearm.

Chances are we have not heard the last of this imaging technology, and opposition to it will likely grow as it becomes closer to reality.

When you are searched, the officer should have good cause to have stopped you and have evidence that they could find something on you indicating a criminal offense. Understanding the laws regarding searches and seizures is something your defense attorney can assist you with.

If you’re facing criminal charges, contact us today for a consultation on your case and to see how we might be able to help.

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