mage of a terahertz scanner's ability to detect weapons under clothes, from research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The New York Police Department has acquired a commercial version of such a scanner.
Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
The New York Police Department has received a large scanner that is able to detect, from a distance, whether people are carrying weapons.
The scanner can sit on a street corner or a truck and analyze passersby a few yards away, the Wall Street Journal reported. It detects terahertz radiation, which human bodies emit. The so-called T-rays pass through clothes, paper, wood and masonry, but not metal. T-ray imagers should work fine in fog.
At a Police Foundation event yesterday (Jan. 23), Commissioner Raymond Kelly presented a sample scanner image of a police officer standing about 30 feet away, dressed in street clothes with a gun hidden in his waistband. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News published copies of the image. It shows the officer's body glowing bright green, with his gun appearing as a black shape at his side.
The scanner may reduce the New York Police Department's practice of stopping people they suspect of committing a crime and physically patting them down to check for weapons. The department says the stop-and-frisk policy helps it pull illegal weapons off the street; opponents say it disproportionately targets men of color and affects innocent people the great majority of the time. Civil rights groups have had mixed reactions to the new terahertz technology, as the Wall Street Journal reported.
The New York Police Department is still working with lawyers to determine in what situations officers can legally use the terahertz scanner, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Police spokesman Paul Browne told the financial newspaper that the scanner was a "multimillion" dollar device, but did not specify its exact cost. The U.S. Department of Defense paid for the scanner.