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NYPD Developing Portable Body Scanner For Detecting Guns 575

Zothecula writes "You have to feel sorry for the police officers who are required to frisk people for guns or knives — after all, if someone who doesn't want to be arrested is carrying a lethal weapon, the last thing most of us would want to do is get close enough to that person to touch them. That's why the New York Police Department teamed up with the United States Department of Defense three years ago, and began developing a portable scanner that can remotely detect the presence of a gun on a person's body. The NYPD announced the project this week."
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NYPD Developing Portable Body Scanner For Detecting Guns

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  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @01:57PM (#38750148) Homepage

    That's one big gun you've got there buddy.

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2012 @01:58PM (#38750154) Homepage Journal

    I have four knives on me right now. This is what I carry with me on a daily basis give or take. Three of them are Leatherman brand, but none are the traditional multi-pliar, I find having the tools spread across multiple devices better as a tech for various reasons.

    I first fired a shotgun at the age of five. At six my dad handed one to carry with me when we were out quail hunting.

    New York, like Chicago, Great Britian, and many other places too much fear in the tool and not enough effort into education, trust and tollerance.

    The reason I could carry a shotgun at the age of six is my dad took me out at the age of four, shot some rabbits and explained death and danger to me. He taught me to respect the tools that guns are. When I was seven he gave me a pocket knife and expected me to carry it as it is one of the most ancient, practical and useful tools known. I got in trouble if I didn't have it on me when he asked. I often didn't have it on me because the school system had the same mentality as NYPD and I knew better than to got with my dads logic, which I considered supperior.

    In an urban setting, guns are like fire extinquishers. They're something you hope you never need, but you should have one around anyways. In a rural setting they're a meal ticket, something to protect your livestock with, and occasionally a form of entertainment - when used responsibly.

    When everyones armed the random individual who wishes to victimize others has less power to do so. Things like this scanner empowers criminals as it prevents otherwise law abiding citizens from carrying their tools of protection.

    • by Azuaron ( 1480137 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:06PM (#38750302)

      They're not talking about scanning random people on the street and taking their guns. They're talking about scanning arrestees instead of frisking them. If you're getting frisked, we're no longer talking about "law abiding citizens".

      Granted, they certainly could use this device to scan random people. But that's an unconstitutional search which the Supreme Court would slap the Hell out of. Remember: fear the people, not the tool.

      • Fear the people since when? The NDAA bill? Coming to your town this April?
      • by GungaDan ( 195739 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:11PM (#38750356) Homepage

        If they're only talking about scanning people they arrest, why do they want the capability to scan from over 80 feet away?

        • by Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:27PM (#38751738) Homepage Journal

          This will absolutely be abused, starting on day 1. In fact, the abusive possibilities are far more likely to be the driving reason for development of this tech. The line about not wanting to frisk arrestees is just PR to win hearts and minds.

          People who have permits to carry concealed weapons can expect to be needlessly hassled and targeted more than they already are.

      • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:11PM (#38750368) Homepage Journal

        Have you been paying attention to what's going on with the TSA? They're expanding like a cancer and the constitution doesn't seem to matter. [] The Second American Revolution will be started in response to the TSA and the fact they allowed to operate without restraint. They're moving onto public streets in some places.

        Random scans are coming if they don't get shut down.

      • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:16PM (#38750462) Journal

        What they are talking about is a terry stop. ( They can stop and frisk you for weapons based on reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity.

        Just because it happened to me once, they can have a "reasonable suspicion" that you are going to j-walk because you are walking down the side walk!

        You will find that they can find "reasonable suspicion" in just about anything. S/His eyes were blood shot (Drunk or stoned), S/He looks out of place in this neighborhood, and my all time favorite "Three white guys under 25 at the mall must be there to cause trouble"

        Note that "Reasonable Suspicion" is defined as a point where the investigating officer has weighed the totality of the circumstances to determine whether sufficient objective facts exist to create reasonable suspicion. VERY open and abused quite regularly in my opinion.

      • by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:17PM (#38750466)

        Granted, they certainly could use this device to scan random people. But that's an unconstitutional search which the Supreme Court would slap the Hell out of.

        My milk came out of my nose. Mod funny +5.

      • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:20PM (#38750544)

        They're not talking about scanning random people on the street and taking their guns.

        Meh.. give it a couple years.

      • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:27PM (#38750692) Homepage Journal

        If you're getting frisked, we're no longer talking about "law abiding citizens".

        Right. Because police accusation means you abandon presumption of innocence.

        Taken to it's logical extension, you advocate suspicion==conviction. You may be a "psychologist", but your also a Nazi. Godwin be damned to hell!

      • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:28PM (#38750698)
        You seriously think that even one cop isn't going to use this tool illegally? You sound like a teenage girl who hands out her passwords as a sign of intimacy.

        The way this tool will be used is simple. The cop will scan random people. If an item the cop disapproves of (even if it is legal) shows up, the cop will approach the person for questioning "because they behaved suspiciously". After a few questions, the cop will claim "probable cause", and move forward from there. At no time will the use of the scanner be claimed as the reason for the confrontation.

        The only way that these devices should even be considered is if they log every time they are used, the police are required to give an explanation prior to it's use, and the logs are in a read only environment that has no mechanism for the police department to tamper with the data. A simple audio recorder that time stamps the event and lets the cop say "Making arrest on 4th st." into the device before it will scan should be enough to keep cops from abusing this.
      • by cstacy ( 534252 )

        If you're getting frisked, we're no longer talking about "law abiding citizens".

        RIght on! The police never arrest people who are innocent. If you're arrested, you're guilty!

        Granted, they certainly could use this device to scan random people. But that's an unconstitutional search which the Supreme Court would slap the Hell out of.

        Yes, they've already ruled on this, regarding scanning anyone who enters certain parking lots in Queens, or tries to go into the buildings there to use a public conveyance. (Oh, wait! They ruled that you give up your rights when you enter those "special" places. Like airports. Or bus terminals, or subways, or many buildings. Or when you try to drive a car into a tunnel in New York City. Or, well, like anywhere

    • by RazzleFrog ( 537054 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:10PM (#38750340)

      There is no legitimate reason for a normal person to carry a gun in New York.

      • Except the constitution? Oh, sorry, i forgot, it is not a legitimate reason.
        • The Constitution says we have the right to bear arms - not that we should be bearing arms. I mean the Constitution gives me lots of rights that I don't necessarily use on a daily basis.

          • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

            Just because you don't necessarily use them on a regular basis does not mean you should not be allowed to use them on a regular basis (or at all).

            • by RazzleFrog ( 537054 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:36PM (#38750838)

              There are laws in place that restrict where and when it is appropriate to restrict your constitutional right to bear arms. Just like there are times when laws restrict your right to free speech. I am not saying that it should be illegal to have a gun in New York but that for 99.99% of New Yorkers there is no good reason to do so.

              Not sure how saying you shouldn't do something means that you aren't allowed to.

      • Not counting the criminal who is carrying one and you're on his menu.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )
        So, you're saying that political allies of the current city administration are not normal?
      • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )

        Sheriff Urges All Women To Carry guns []

        He suggests a .45. Go check your crime stats for NYC again. The data clearly indicates that more crime happens in big cities than in small, rural towns. It has to do with population density.

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:11PM (#38750358) Homepage

      Unfortunately, it's a bit more complicated that that. I live in fairly rural Alaska, people have guns all of the time. It's not all that uncommon to see a couple of guys walking down the main road, rifles in hand, going off deer hunting. If we go out into the backwoods, I typically carry a 12 gauge for bear defense (first rounds are the shotgun equivalent of an M-80, designed to scare the bear off). I don't carry a pistol around because there is really no need to - the human animals are fairly tame compared to the batshit insanity found in a bigger city.

      But in the batshit insanity of a big city, feral humans are a big problem. Especially if you are law enforcement. It's useful to know that the hophead idiot wired up on six different drugs has a pistol (although those people tend to remind me of the scene in '5th Element' where Bruce Willis disarms the guy). It's useful to know that the stoner is unarmed.

      If you are carrying a gun and a policeman stops you, you'd best put your hands where they can see them and tell them slowly and carefully that you're armed. Be professional. It saves lives.

      • When you get a concealed carry permit they teach you to inform cops you are carrying during a traffic stop. Professionalism is the apex.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Oh, surprise. A gun owner who jumps to the wrong conclusion as an excuse to go on about guns. Naturally using anecdotes to show how safe they are.

      I'm shocked I tell you, shocked.

      • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:18PM (#38750502) Homepage Journal

        Please, place a huge sign on your front door that says "No guns here, and they're not welcome."

        Guns are by no means the most dangerous thing I'm around on a regular basis. I would qualify that 2005 Saturn out in the parking lot as a much bigger danger to me than my rifles and pistols, I'm much more likely to die from it. I also work around high voltages on a regular basis, and I'm not talking 115 AC.

        My guns and knives may not the be the safest things I own, but they're far from the most dangerous thing I'm around regularly. When it comes to my other tools I'm more afraid of my circular saw than I am my guns.

        • by citylivin ( 1250770 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:41PM (#38752636)

          My guns and knives may not the be the safest things I own, but they're far from the most dangerous thing I'm around regularly.

          All the things you listed are tools with their primary use being legitimate. A circular saw, can be used to cut up bodies, but it is primarily used for sawing wood. Same deal with a car. A gun however is designed to shoot out small metal bits which rip through soft tissues. This is the primary use for firearms. To hurt or kill living tissues - humans or animals. Of course if you live in the country, it is legitimate use to carry a gun for protection from bears and the like. In the city though? You are pushing it to say that there is a legitimate defence based use for any firearms.

          Here in canada guns are mostly not used in violent crime, unless there are gangs involved. I personally have been held up at gunpoint once about 10 years ago, but if I had a gun of my own, what could I have done? Got into a shooting match like counterstrike? Much more likely I would be dead now, rather than just missing 40$ from my wallet and a cel phone.

          That all said, if I lived in america, I probably would own a gun. Because people down there are fearful and violent. Its kind of like somalia or Afghanistan. There are valid countries for sure where carrying a firearm is necessary. I think the USA might be one of them, but thats more of a cultural problem. I can't say for sure that it is because of the easy availability of guns that causes it, but it does seem likely.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      I'm generally in favor of an educated and armed population, but I don't see how the existence of this scanner makes it easier for criminals.

      The scanner detects firearms, it doesn't mean that you can be arrested for one. Presumably, you could be asked for your concealed carry license if they saw you with yours, but that's just the law. Criminals would be scanned as well. So in the sense of detection, this seems more like a tool than anything else. That is unless you are trying to ensure that the police

    • Well, here's the thing: having a gun in an urban setting does not decrease the likely hood that people will shoot you. A conceled carry will not prevent random violence typical of urban settings.

      All gangs have guns.
      All gangs know all other gangs have guns.
      All gangs use their guns on other gangs, knowing full well that they have guns.

      So they use their guns to surprise the other gangs when they will be less likely to strike back immideatly. Tactics such as drive by shootings and other psuedo gurrila warfare

    • The flaw here, is not everybody was raised that way, in fact most people weren't, and what about the elderly and young? Do you think you could have legitimately defended yourself w a shotgun at 6? Not against an adult w a gun you can't. The systems already in place though, concealed weapons permit + firearm = legal, whether your getting arrested or not. Of course, they'll take it from you upon arrest, but (sometimes w great pain) you can get it back. That's different from having a gun in your home. I

  • by danbuter ( 2019760 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @01:58PM (#38750168)
    I'm sure they won't abuse these items by just randomly scanning pedestrians. After all, they uphold the law!
    • Point 1: there are low-tech ways to spot whether someone's carrying a concealed gun, and there are training materials for police which teach those.

      Point 2: how often is this technology going to be aimed at white people, given the huge racial disparity of the current stop-and-frisk program?

      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        I wonder if they could use dogs. They're portable, most are even happy to walk-around on their own without being carried ;).

        And they can detect lots of things, you just need to get them to understand what you want them to detect, e.g. explosives, CD-Rs, cancer, dead bodies.

        Main problem is they get bored after a short while and stop being effective.
  • by ElmoGonzo ( 627753 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:01PM (#38750220)
    All that matters is that people on the street THINK that every cop has one that does work.
  • No, really, what is going on? First drones, read as warrant-less search and wiretapping of your home, then body stripping at the airports, and now this, gun and knife scanner....SO WHAT IF I HAVE A KNIFE IN MY POCKET. Am i guilty of something? What happened with Magna Carta guys, WHAT?
    • You have a knife in your pocket? Quick, taze and spray!

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      well, if the police have probably cause, and they find a knife. They will probably ask you to remove it. If you are hostile, they will take it away. Just like they do now if they see you have a knife vs. finding a knife when the search you.

  • Like the scanners at airports ... I'm not sure I'd be willing to entrust my health to the lowest bidder on a government contract.

    And, of course, no matter what happens with the safety record of this, I'm sure it will become a crime to refuse to be scanned by this. You're not allowed to tell an law enforcement agent that his lack of medical training means he's not qualified to tell you it's perfectly safe.

    I know at airports I won't get into it ... frisk me down if you like. When you're talking about cops,

  • Just what we need.

    What is next home scanners so you can size your own shoes and see your toes wiggle around?

  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:14PM (#38750414)

    And give a blurry image of it.

    Or any other object that blocks the normal IR radiation from the body.

    "Your honor, we had probable cause to search the individual because we thought that vague rectangular outline in his pocket was a gun. Our bad. It was a cell phone with a metal case. But, we did find the joint in his backpack during the search that we only did to ensure our own safety."

  • but I doubt many have used them winningly in a Meatspace Hero boss fight, nor faced the consequences. If you do shoot someone to 'save the day', try to make sure they're friendless orphans with no gang affiliations.
  • on the other hand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @02:23PM (#38750586) Homepage
    "you have to feel sorry for the police officers who are required to frisk people for guns or knives"

    No, i dont. thats their job. I have to feel sorry for an author so desparate to spin the idea of shredding my constitutional freedoms that hes resorting to an empathetic appeal to "my fellow man."
    nothing stops gangs and crime like a job. this perpetual incarceration model where once released a felon is bankrupt, banned from food stamps, and legally unemployable is whats virtually guaranteed america will enjoy some of the highest violent crime rates in the first world. developing the ways and means to catch the bad guy do nothing if you arent willing to address the heart of the matter.
  • In DRED SCOTT v. SANDFORD, 60 U.S. 393 (1856), when discussing why black can't be considered citzens, the Supreme Court listed some common rights they would have:

    It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

    More guns in honest hands == less crime and fewer deaths

  • by rilian4 ( 591569 ) on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:22PM (#38751656) Journal
    NYC is blatantly violating the constitution both with its gun laws and this new scanning device. The 2nd amendment provides no exceptions to allowing citizens the right to bear arms. The 10th amendment limits the government's powers to those stated in the constitution and reverts anything else back to the states and the people. New York State adopted this constitution as law therefore they have no right to tell a law-abiding citizen that they can't carry a gun.
  • performance and cost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jimktrains ( 838227 ) * on Thursday January 19, 2012 @03:57PM (#38752124) Homepage

    I wonder if this is just as effective as the scanners in the airport, and what the cost difference is.

  • by Catmeat ( 20653 ) < minus distro> on Thursday January 19, 2012 @04:38PM (#38752592)

    Sod guns, obviously the most useful application this technology would have, assuming it can have the range claimed for it, is spotting suicide vests as frisking is clearly impossible. I believe the only current option is to force the suspected bomber to undress at gunpoint, while standing well away from them.

    I'll be interested to see if the Israelis start buying this technology. Though I assume it'll only take a another 7/7 in London before they put these into every tube station.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter