Los Angeles transit to install body scanners that will screen for weapons and explosives

Los Angeles subway will become first to use body scanners to screen passengers
Los Angeles' subway is to become the first mass transit system in the U.S. to install body scanners that screen passengers for weapons and explosives, officials said on Tuesday.

Commuters on L.A.’s transit system will soon find themselves undergoing full-body scans for weapons and explosives.

That’s after the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) bought security devices that can scan people for both metallic and non-metallic objects, it announced Tuesday.

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The equipment is known as Thruvision TAC-TS4 portable terahertz millimeter wave passenger screening devices.

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What they do is look for objects, either hidden or fastened to a person’s body, that block the “naturally occurring waves” that humans produce.

The devices then mark black spots or colour indicators on people’s bodies where they’re carrying objects that block those waves.

“We’re looking specifically for weapons that have the ability to cause a mass-casualty event,” said Alex Wiggins of the Metro’s law enforcement division.

“We’re looking for explosive vests, we’re looking for assault rifles. We’re not necessarily looking for smaller weapons don’t have the ability to inflict mass casualties.”

Metro is carrying out this project in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“While we are on watch, we will not have a repeat of 9/11 or any terrorist incident inside our transportation system in the United States,” TSA administrator David Pekoske said at a news conference.

The TSA said in a news release that this equipment allows agents to screen commuters without stopping them and then act when they find suspicious items.

Metro has already tested the equipment at its 7th Street/Metro Center station, and it plans to place the devices at numerous points throughout its system.

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The scanners can examine commuters’ bodies from as far as nine metres away, and they can look at more than 2,000 passengers per hour.

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They’re expected to be installed at subway stations in the “coming months,” Wiggins said.

Commuters can choose whether to be scanned.

If they opt against it, however, they can’t ride the subway.

  • With files from The Associated Press