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Heat-Seeking Gun Detectors Less Intrusive Than Pat Down, Cops Say

By Ben Fractenberg | January 18, 2012 8:52pm
The NYPD is developing a device that will use heat-seeking technology to detect guns.
The NYPD is developing a device that will use heat-seeking technology to detect guns.
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DOWNTOWN — Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said a proposed and controversial scanner that detects concealed guns using heat-seeking technology would be less invasive than being frisked.

"It's less intrusive than [if] someone is acting in a suspicious manner. That person is stopped and questioned…they may be patted down and it may even result in a search," said Kelly during an unrelated press conference Wednesday.

Kelly added it is still going to "be a while" before the technology is used since the functionality is not quite there.

"It now works up to five meters. We would like to extend that range to 25 meters and to reduce the screen," Kelly said. "The [monitor] is sort of like a widescreen TV right now."

When asked how someone using the scanner could tell a gun from another metal object a person may be carrying, the commissioner said officers using it would be trained to detect a gun's "shapes, sizes," and  "where a particular object may be carried."

"It takes a degree of training to run this piece of equipment," he said. "It's not something just anyone can sit down to work on."

Kelly said police are working with the Department of Defense and the scanner vendor to implement changes making them ready for use.

The device would be mounted on police vans and scan infrared rays emitted from the body. Metal objects like guns would block the heat, creating an outline.

Critics say the scanner would be an invasion of someone's privacy and be like a virtual stop-and-frisk.