Updated 01/17/2012 11:39 PM
Civil Liberties Advocates Express Privacy Concerns Over NYPD's New Gun Detection Tool
A new device currently being tested by the New York City Police Department is capable of detecting concealed weapons from a distance, but some civil liberties advocates say the technology may be an invasion of privacy. NY1’s Tetiana Anderson filed the following report.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
New technology being tested by the New York City Police Department may allow officers to see concealed weapons from up to 13 feet away.
"It's called Terra-hertz imaging detection, and it’s essentially radiation that's emitted from the body that’s blocked by certain objects—a gun, for instance," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
While it's still in the test phase, the NYPD has been working with the Department of Defense and a private contractor to develop the gun scan detection device, which would be mounted on a vehicle.
Noah Schactman covers national security for Wired magazine. He said the technology is a byproduct of what was developed for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Whether we’re talking about military-style body armor that you see on police units throughout the streets of New York, whether you're talking about drones which are coming to police departments throughout the country, or whether you're talking about something like this, military-style gear is coming to police departments of the city, and ours is no exception," said Schactman.
The NYPD has already faced serious criticism for its so-called "stop and frisk" policy, and some civil liberties groups and citizens worry this will just be a high-tech version of the same thing.
"Do New Yorkers have to worry about a virtual pat-down whenever they’re out on the street?" said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"I think it's better than getting frisked," said one resident.
According to the police commissioner, the Department of Defense says the technology could be used to look for more than just guns.
"They were looking at suicide vests, and it would certainly be helpful for something like that," said Kelly.
The NYCLU does say this device could reduce hands-on pat-downs by half a million a year.
But security experts caution it could pick up false positives. The NYPD says officers would be well-trained, and the department is consulting lawyers on development every step of the way. There’s no word yet on when the gun detection device could hit the streets.