A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: unreasonable search

Is That A Gun In Your Pocket?

Gun in pocket

 

By Katherine Lazarow

Detective Herlihy, father of three, surprised his wife with a bracelet on Valentine’s Day and went off to work. A few hours later, he was caught in a deadly shootout in a crowded subway station.

Michael McBride, 52, was wanted for the Monday shooting of his girlfriend’s daughter. According to witnesses, he’d concealed his .22-caliber revolver in a folded copy of the NYDaily News. When street detectives recognized him and called out for him to stop, he raced into the station, where the gun battle ensued.

At least 17 shots were fired at West 145th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, scattering commuters and killing Mr. McBride.

Det. Herlihy was wounded but survived. Many other officers are not so lucky.

“Isn’t there a way of getting handguns out of the hands of potential criminals” ? That’s the question the media and the public ask each time an incident like this occurs.  The NYPD believes it may have the answer.

Welcome to the new world of crime prevention envisioned by Terahertz Imaging Detection, a new technology that measures energy coming off of a person’s body, and detects anything that’s blocking that energy, such as a gun. Currently being tested by the NYPD, it consists of a portable scanner placed on police cars that can be aimed at a particular person to reveal any concealed weapons. Terahertz rays (also called T-rays) are similar to x-rays but less powerful; they can penetrate fabrics and plastic, but can’t pass through metal or water.

The T-ray scanner could be a valuable tool in the battle to reduce the crime rate and prevent gun violence. But at what cost? If the police use the scanners to check every person walking down a particular street for concealed weapons, are they violating these citizens’ right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment? What if the T-ray scanners are used only after a person has been stopped by the police due to suspicious behavior?

The media didn’t carefully examine these questions.  We will.   (more…)

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