NYPD Testing New Body Scanners for Use on New York Streets

January 24th, 2013

Those who travel on airplanes are unfortunately familiar with body scanners. Some people opt out of them to avoid the many health issues that have been reported in various studies. However, people walking on the street in New York City may soon be victimized by an even more intrusive new machine. The New York Daily News is reporting that the NYPD is testing a new type of body scanner that can scan everyone on a city street, allegedly for guns.

The Constitution requires officers to get a warrant before carrying out an investigation of this kind on a citizen. This news is coming on the heels of a ruling by a federal judge that the NYPD can continue its controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which also violates the same constitutional premise. With New York’s new and unconstitutional gun ban on the way, it’s clear that these devices will be used on everyone in hopes of identifying gun owners. New York City is becoming a prison island.

Unintended Consequences

What other objects, besides guns, can this scanner detect? Will people be stopped and frisked based on false positives or because they’re carrying innocuous items? Also, will implementing such a tough gun control measure cause an increase in crime? Law abiding citizens will avoid carrying because of this technology, and criminals will simply avoid the street corners with machines.

Will these body scanners produce health-related side effects for those who walk by? Airline passengers only go through body scanners once in a while. Someone who lives adjacent to one of these machines could be getting zapped multiple times a day. Will health crises emerge in the neighborhoods adjacent to the machines?

Does the Constitution Apply to NYC at All Anymore?

As a policy, stop-and-frisk has become a national embarrassment. Individuals from ethnic minorities are routinely profiled. The right to bear arms is under attack. Now, the city is considering using body scanners on street corners and deploying them at random.

The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution applies the entirety of the Bill of Rights to the states. The federal government has an obligation, not only to prevent these abuses, but also to protect gun rights in New York. A federal court just lifted the ban on stop-and-frisk because it might inconvenience officers. Civil rights are inconvenient to police in general. Obviously, it would be safer for law enforcers if they could use military rules of engagement on their own citizens, but that is not the way it works in a civilized society.

Being a police officer is a difficult job. It requires managing the need for personal safety with the legitimate natural rights of citizens. Taking shortcuts on civil rights to make things easier on the police and government is not the right path to take when trying to guarantee public safety. By eviscerating the rule of law, policymakers risk creating a Wild West scenario where law enforcement exists above the law.

No one benefits from that, and no one will benefit from these street corner body scanners.

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.