Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has come out in support of a plan by the New York Police Department (NYPD) to develop a new technology that would allow cops to determine if someone is carrying a gun by using an infrared scanner.
But Ortiz is also raising concerns about the effect the new device would have on the health of residents who are scanned.
“I applaud the New York Police Department for their efforts to make our streets safer. However, it is imperative that the new technologies are understood and tested for public health safety,” he said.
Ortiz contacted police officials to get information on the possible side effects of the scanning device.
He expressed particular concern for residents living with implanted medical devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators.
“The body of the average person may not be affected by the radiation that emits from this equipment. However, those who are using implanted medical devices, like pacemakers or cardioverter-defibrillators, may be affected,” Ortiz said. “There have been incidents of pacemaker malfunction when an individual passes through a scanning device, such as the metal detectors found in airport security. Thus, we must make sure of the effect that this new scanning tool has on medical services before we begin commercializing it.”
The new device the NYPD is developing would scan a person and determine if that person is carrying weapon, according to officials. The device could detect a gun up to five feet away, officials said.
Using the scanner might reduce the number of stop-and-frisk encounters police officers have with potential gun suspects on the streets, officials said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced in his State of the NYPD Address on Jan. 17 that the department is developing the scanning device.
“This technology has shown a great deal of promise as a way of detecting weapons without a physical search,” Kelly said.
Kelly also said the NYPD is trying to improve the scanner so that it is operational from a farther distance than five feet.
“We want a distance of at least 25 meters,” he said.
Civil liberties experts have expressed concern over the possible use of scanning devices. Experts have raised the possibility that such scanning devices violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.
— Paula Katinas
January 26, 2012 - 11:38am