Thursday, January 19, 2012
New NYPD spying technology raises questions
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced that the NYPD is pursuing a controversial new technology in the war against illegal guns: body-scanning devices.
Kelly said the NYPD, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, is working to develop a tool capable of detecting concealed firearms.
The device can read radiation, or heat, emitted from a person’s body. The radiation does not travel through metal, allowing officers to “see” the outline of hidden weapons.
The NYPD is testing the new scanners, which currently only work from three to four feet away. Kelly said he’s hoping they will soon operate at a distance of more than 80 feet. Police will install the scanners onto NYPD vans to direct at suspects.
But some are concerned that the NYPD will abuse its new power. Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, sees the new technology as a double-edged sword.
“On the one hand, if technology like this worked as it was billed, New York City should see its stop-and-frisk rate drop by a half-million people a year,” said Lieberman. “On the other hand, the ability to walk down the street free from a virtual police pat-down is a matter of privacy.”