The Los Angeles subway will become the first mass transit system in the nation to deploy portable body scanners to screen passengers for explosives and weapons, officials announced on Tuesday.
The scanners, made by UK screening company ThruVision, are able to screen passengers walking through the station without slowing them down and will be deployed over the next few months according to Alex Wiggins, head of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation's law enforcement division.
“We’re looking specifically for weapons that have the ability to cause a mass-casualty event,” Wiggins said. “We’re looking for explosive vests, we’re looking for assault rifles. We’re not necessarily looking for smaller weapons that don’t have the ability to inflict mass casualties.”
The machines scan for metallic and non-metallic objects on a person’s body, can detect suspicious items from 30 feet (9 meters) away and have the capability of scanning more than 2,000 passengers per hour. -AP
“We’re dealing with persistent threats to our transportation systems in our country,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Our job is to ensure security in the transportation systems so that a terrorist incident does not happen on our watch."
And before you worry about your kibbles and bits getting scanned into some secret database, rest assured that ThruVision's technology is "safe and respectful," which their website describes as "Completely safe, with no anatomical detail revealed and physical ‘pat-downs’ no longer needed."
Thruvision is a proven people-screening camera able to detect any type of object hidden under clothing. Based on patented, passive terahertz technology, Thruvision provides safe and respectful real-time imagery of items concealed in travelers’ clothing, allowing law enforcement agents to take decisive, pre-emptive action if suspicious items are seen. -ThruVision
The technology is reportedly passive, meaning it doesn't shoot beams of radiation through one's body.
Los Angeles will post signs at various stations notifying passengers they are subject to body scanner screening. And while Wiggins wants you to know that the screening process is totally voluntary - those who refuse won't be able to ride on the subway. Around 150,000 passengers ride on Los Angeles' Metro Red Line daily, while over 112 million riders used the system last year.
We can picture it now.