LA Metro Will Use Body Scanners to Detect Explosives

Aug 15, 2018

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The rail system in Los Angeles County will be the first in the country to implement full-time use of body scanners capable of detecting improvised explosive devices such as suicide vests hidden on train passengers, authorities announced Tuesday.

Los Angeles’ Metropolitan Transit Authority said that later this year, the agency would deploy a handful of portable body scanners, each one about the size of a small trunk on wheels that can be moved to any of the system’s 93 subway and light-rail train stations. Officials say the scanners will be used to respond to threats of terrorism or to sweep subway crowds after sporting events, concerts or protests.

The scanners can sweep people from 30 feet away, so police could scan large numbers of people as they pass by without stopping commuters during rush hour or interrupting the flow of traffic after a large event. Each scanner can process more than 2,000 people per hour.

The devices use radio waves to detect concealed nonmetallic explosives and even guns or assault rifles hidden on a passenger. As a passenger approaches the scanner, the device’s screen displays two images — one side is plain video of the rider approaching, the other side of the screen shows the person’s body outline in green, with black squares displayed where explosives or weapons might be concealed.

Authorities did not elaborate on the procedure when someone is detected to have a weapon, but they did make clear that passengers would be alerted they were about to be scanned and searched upon entering the affected stations.

“One thing we have to be sensitive to is the 4th Amendment, unreasonable search and seizure,” Los Angeles Metro Security Chief Alex Wiggins told the LA Times. “We will make it very, very clear that individuals are entering an area where they’re subject to search.”

The Transportation Security Administration also temporarily deployed the same technology earlier this year at New York’s Penn Station, where Amtrak trains depart for the well-traveled northeast corridor rail system.

H/T: LA Times

Featured image by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

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