The New York City Police Department is testing a tool capable of detecting concealed firearms from a distance.
The device reads a form of natural energy similar to radiation. If something blocks that energy’s flow—a weapon, for instance—the device will highlight that object on a person’s body.
Police would place the device in a vehicle and scan an area for weapons.
NYPD officials say the device can currently detect weapons from about 13 feet away, but they hope to increase that to about 80 feet.
Commissioner Ray Kelly said police are working with the U.S. Defense Department on developing the device and hope it can be done quickly.
“We’re very much in the exploratory stages here. We have involved our attorneys as we go forward with this issue. We think it’s a very positive development. Certainly it has a ways to go,” said Kelly.
New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said she finds the technology both intriguing and worrisome, because while it may severely cut the number of stop-and-frisks done by police, it may also be an invasion of privacy.
She said more information is needed about the technology.