New York Police Commissioner Joe Kelly is considering the latest in technology—Terahertz Imaging Detection (TID)—to be mounted on police cars and allowing them to roam the streets of New York looking for people carrying guns. The NYPD, sometimes referred to as the world’s “seventh largest army” with 35,000 uniformed officers, already does a brisk business frisking potential suspects, with little pushback. In the first quarter of last year, 161,000 New Yorkers were stopped and interrogated, with more than nine out of 10 of them found to be innocent. And there are cameras already in place everywhere: in Manhattan alone there are more than 2,000 surveillance cameras watching for alleged miscreants.
But the new technology will avoid the necessity of doing public pat-downs because it would allow officers to note, from their cruisers, who is carrying heat. The technology, effective up to 16 feet (with improvements in longer scans already being tested), measures body heat and indicates any “blockages” of that heat by metal obstructions, assumed in most cases to be handguns carried on the person. What it can do is “allow the NYPD to conduct illegal searches by means of scanning anyone walking the streets of New York,” according to the report at RT.com. “Any object on your person could be privy to the eyes of the detector, and any suspicious screens can prompt police officers to search someone on suspicion of having a gun, or anything else, under their clothes.”
Commissioner Kelly assured investigators that the scanners would be used only in what he calls “reasonably suspicious circumstances.” That’s a long way from the language in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says: