NYPD deploys terahertz scanner in weapons crackdown

The New York Police Department (NYPD), in conjunction with the the US Department of Defense (DoD), is currently testing a new system that uses terahertz imaging to detect hidden weapons.

The system is placed on police vehicles while officers scan crowds milling around a specific location. 

“You could use it at a specific event,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS News. “[Alternatively], you could use it at a shooting-prone location.”

Unsurprisingly, the use of such invasive technology has prompted a slew of concerned statements from privacy advocates who believe the arbitrary use of terahertz imaging violates human rights.

To be sure, the system is capable of measuring energy radiating from an individual up to 16-feet away, while detecting anomalies like a firearm.

However, Kelly insisted he will only authorize the use of the system in reasonably suspicious circumstances where terahertz imaging would cut down on the number of instances which police stop and frisk a subject.


The DoD is also researching the technology as a way to detect suicide bombers wearing explosives. Personally, I think having the police scan you from afar would be better than having to be frisked – up close and personal. 

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) is not endorsing the system, though. 

“It’s worrisome,” explained NYCLU spokesperson Donna Lieberman. “It implicates privacy, the right to walk down the street without being subjected to a virtual pat-down by the Police Department when you’re doing nothing wrong.”