By Ben Fractenberg
DOWNTOWN — Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly waded into the debate over full-body scanners and security pat-downs at airports Tuesday, putting his weight firmly behind the TSA.
"I think technology is the way to go," Kelly said when he was asked about the scanners after a press conference at 1 Police Plaza. "It’s gonna speed up the process."
The TSA has come under intense criticism over the full-body scanners with some travelers and officials complaining about privacy and what happens to the images after the scans are completed.
The scanners produce an intimate view of passengers and have led to the creation of "scanner-proof underwear," and "National Opt-Out Day" which asks travellers to opt-out of the scans on the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year.
Kelly, who served as commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service, said people who did not wish to go through the scanners could instead choose to be patted down by TSA officers, a procedure that has also drawn criticism in recent weeks.
JFK Airport started using the scanners at the American Airlines terminal and both Newark and LaGuardia airports will rollout the devices within the next couple weeks.
Kelly said the 60-plus airports currently using them wasn't enough.
The commissioner has generally supported the use of technology to fight crime over privacy concerns.
He recently oversaw the installation of cameras along express bus lanes on First and Second avenues to catch drivers using them illegally.