NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD is stepping up their war against illegal guns, with a new tool that could detect weapons on someone as they walk down the street.
But is it violating your right to privacy?
Police, along with the U.S. Department of Defense, are researching new technology in a scanner placed on police vehicles that can detect concealed weapons.
“You could use it at a specific event. You could use it at a shooting-prone location,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez on Tuesday.
It’s called Terahertz Imaging Detection. It measures the energy radiating from a body up to 16 feet away, and can detect anything blocking it, like a gun.
And the idea is causing quite the uproar on both sides of the privacy issue.
“I think it’s good. People will be safer and it will be a safer environment,” Jessica Ramos said.
“If it’s going to make us safer as citizens I’m okay with that,” said Lori Sampson of Lake Ronkonkoma.
“I think it’s all about invading people’s lives more and more and more,” Antonio Gabriel said.
“It’s definitely a privacy issue, but it’s for our safety. So it’s just one of those things, a double-edged sword,” added Clarence Moore of Union, N.J.
Police Commissioner Kelly said the scanner would only be used in reasonably suspicious circumstances and could cut down on the number of stop-and-frisks on the street.
But the New York Civil Liberties Union is raising a red flag.
“It’s worrisome. It implicates privacy, the right to walk down the street without being subjected to a virtual pat-down by the Police Department when you’re doing nothing wrong,” the NYCLU’s Donna Lieberman said.
“We have involved our attorneys as we go forward with this issue. We think it’s a very positive development,” Kelly said.
People on the street have differing opinions on the price they’d be willing to pay for safety.
“There are a lot of cameras already here, so as people walk they’re being filmed. And most of the time they don’t know it,” said Jennifer Bailly of Jersey City.
“If they search you, you’re not giving consent, so they can do what they want, meaning they can use that as an excuse to search you for other means. I don’t think that’s constitutional at all,” Devan Thomas said.
“I don’t agree with it. I have the belief that if you forgoe some of your freedom then it’s not freedom at all,” added Erwin Morales of Hoboken.
“I think it’s good. I think if someone has something to hide and they’re going to worry about it, who cares?” Robert McDougall added.
The Department of Defense is also researching the Terahertz technology to detect suicide bombers wearing explosives.