In Post-Newtown-Gun-Violence-Debate, USA, lawmakers and enforcement agents alike are looking for new ways to clamp down on shooting deaths. In New York City at least, the answer may lie in Terahertz Imaging Detection.
The current standard for identifying those carrying weapons, illegal drugs, etc. in NYC is “stop-and-frisk,” a mandate allowing police to search anyone they deem “suspicious.” The New York Civil Liberties Union has fought avidly against stop-and-frisk, characterizing it as an abuse of power and an invasion of privacy. There have also been accusations of inherent racism in the program.
Terahertz Imaging Detection (TID), the potential death knell for stop-and-frisk, brings with it not only new questions regarding Fourth Amendment rights, but also a fascinating new technology.
TID is a remote body scanner, similar to the also-controversial full-body scanners currently being removed from airports. Police can stand back and scan passersby up to 16 feet away; the technology works by measuring energy radiating off of a body, and identifying anything blocking that energy, like a gun or knife.
As always, with new surveillance technology comes a civil libertarian backlash, claiming that TID constitutes an unlawful search. Police claim this scanning system will cut down on the number of random stop-and-frisk cases because it removes the element of judgment from the officer. If a gun or knife is detected by the machine, the officer will know there’s a weapon, and can justify a search and proceed with extra caution.
However the controversy ultimately plays out, those on both sides of the civil liberty debate can agree that the technology is fascinating — and it has tremendous potential for both military and homeland security applications.
Image via NYPD