Get ready for scan and frisk. Some disturbing news this morning. I first reported last year that the NYPD was planning to mount “naked body scanners” like used in airports to the back on NYPD cruisers to scan pedestrians on the street.
This morning NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that The department has just received a machine that reads terahertz and allows police to view concealed weapons from a distance. “We took delivery of it last week,” Kelly said at a Police Foundation breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria this morning.
In comments that seem to contradict his stance in calling for last weeks NY Assault weapons ban Kelley said “We’ve had very, very few incidents on the streets of this city involving assault weapons, it’s handguns; handguns are the major problem,”
He is careful to say these are “passive scanners” and that terahertz scanners measure “natural” radiation that emits from our bodies. “If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object,” Kelly said.
I’ve reached out to Peter Vallone Jr. of chair of the NYC council Public Safety Committee for comment and information on the scanners being used. We are also trying to get information on the machine itself to find out from the manufacturer if the machine emits terahertz waves. MIT put out a report in 2009 titled “How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA” so there is concern about the health risks of the public being scanned possibly on a routine basis and what types of cancers and birth defects that might lead to in the future.
Whether these machines are safe health wise does not address the blatant violation of the Bill of Rights with random, unwarranted searches being performed without consent, and seemingly without knowledge of the people on the street. The sacred right to be innocent until proven guilty is being called into question with the use of a machine that will scan everyone walking down the block, are all New Yorkers going to be treated as criminals until proven innocent by a scan?
The department will begin testing the high-tech device for use on the street. The device is small enough to be placed in a police vehicle or stationed at a street . Kelly, who first discussed the possibility of using this technology last year, said the NYPD has been working with the London Metropolitan Police and a contractor “to develop a tool that meets our requirements.” “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.”
It is important to note that the The Supreme Court stopped the NYPD from using similar infra red technology to perform “virtual searches” before ruling that it was unconstitutional. Yet the NYPD has pushed forward with this new radiation technology.
Editors Note: Activists are planning a protest of NYPD’s use of this technology Wed Jan 30th 2013. More info is available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/410778172333416/