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NY Police Commissioner Says Video Tech Solves Crime, Increases Safety

Device that can detect a gun underneath clothing being tested

During 2012, New York City law enforcement dependence on video technology to solve crimes and support public safety increased tremendously, and police will depend on that technology even more in 2013, according to the city’s top officer.

Among the video technologies the New York Police Department is looking to institute, and which it is testing, is the “T-ray” machine, a portable device that can detect a gun underneath clothing from 30 feet away, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly during the annual State of the NYPD Address, which he delivered on Jan. 23.

The T-ray device reads a specific form of natural radiation emitted by living creatures known as terahertz, and if something obstructs the flow of that radiation, such as a weapon, the device will highlight that object, said Kelly.
The T-ray device is likely to replace the controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy that the department has been using to find concealed weapons. The stop and frisk policy has been instituted in areas determined by police to be high-crime areas—mostly in and around apartment buildings—but U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin has ordered the policy be halted unless police have “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is engaged in criminal trespass. Under Scheindlin’s order, issued on Jan. 8, an officer has to be able to provide “a minimal level of objective justification for making the stop” and conducting a frisk.

An indication the T-ray device will replace stop-and-frisk is that the NYPD required it be portable, and the British manufacturer, Digital Barriers, delivered a version that can be mounted on a truck. Nonetheless, Kelly said, “We still have a number of trials to run before we can determine how best to deploy this technology. But we’re very pleased with the progress we’ve made.”
In addition, Kelly listed other video technologies he credits with reducing crime and strengthening “the administration of justice.” They are:

  • Nearly 3,500 cameras have been mounted and networked together through the “Lower and Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative,” and another 6,000 cameras installed in the elevators and lobbies of New York’s 334 public housing developments.
  • The “Domain Awareness System” that enables searches of archived video from several different cameras for images of a suspect based on descriptions that might have been recorded up to 30 days prior.
  • Video recording of suspect interrogations in cases of felony assaults, sex crimes and murder.

Kelly said an interrogations recording pilot program has been underway in five precincts since 2012, and the department “found that the system was not only manageable logistically, but that the performance of our detectives was such that we expect there will be little if no downside for the prosecution.”

Click here to read a transcript of Kelly’s presentation.