NYPD Testing T-Ray Device to See Through Clothes

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Photo: Courtesy of NYPD

NYPD boss Ray Kelly was his version of giddy yesterday while describing new technology that will allow police to just see straight through people's clothing. As detailed by The Wall Street Journal, "The so-called T-Ray machine detects terahertz radiation, a high-frequency electromagnetic natural energy that is emitted by people and can penetrate many materials." Kelly, in a speech at the Waldorf-Astoria, explained, "If something is obstructing the flow of that radiation, for example a weapon, the device will highlight that object." After a demonstration, he added, "You get a sense of why we're so hopeful about this tool." And the government is footing the bill.

The "multimillion" dollar machine is being paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. For now, the tester device (pictured above) is large and could be mounted to a car, but eventually the deparment hopes "to get the T-Ray technology in a device small enough to carry on an officer's gun belt," the Journal reports.

While the sci-fi-style machine could eventually make the department's controversial street stops obsolete, it comes with its own obvious civil-liberty issues, along with the chance of identifying, say, a hairbrush, wallet, or candy bar as something more dangerous.

"Any technology that allows police to peer into a person's body or possessions raises a lot of questions," said NYCLU director Donna Lieberman. "But to the extent that this technology reduces the abuse of stop-and-frisk that harms hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every year, we're intrigued by the possibilities."