Forget police pat-downs -- the NYPD is teaming up with the Pentagon to make a device that can look through clothing to detect guns and suicide-bomber vests, Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday.
The new technology, which is used in some airports, can read radiation from a person's body. If the radiation is obstructed by an object, such as a gun, the device will highlight the shape of the object.
"We hope to utilize the sensor as soon as it meets our requirements," Kelly said Tuesday morning during his State of the NYPD address. The agency plans to attach the devices atop its vans.
If it's deployed in the city, the new tool could impact the NYPD's controversial "stop-and-frisk" program by helping cops better target people on the street for gun checks. Their use also would likely lead to legal challenges in criminal cases, experts said.
The gadget was tested last June at an NYPD firing range in the Bronx and was able to detect a gun about 15 feet away, an NYPD official said. Boosting its radius to 25 feet or more requires a larger unit, police said.
Chris Dunn, a lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said technology that lets police "see in your pockets as you walk down the street is deeply troubling."
But NYPD spokesman Paul Browne argued that since "police officers don't have X-ray vision," the new device "has the potential of giving them that for guns and suicide vests."