Civil libertarians raise questions about NYPD x-ray vans

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK -- In the corporate world, finding a new use for an old resource is referred to as “repurposing.”

That’s what the NYPD has done with “Backscatter - Body Scanning” technology.

What was found to be too controversial in our nation’s airports is now a mobile tool for terrorism conscious law enforcement agents with vans now housing the equipment that can see through everything, simply as it rolls down the street.

To be sure, this is not something Police Commissioner Bratton wants to talk about.

News of the NYPD’s so called “Super-secret X-Ray Vans” has already gone viral.

“There’s certain issues that we don’t disclose about some of the equipment that we use in dealing with our counter-terrorism capabilities,” said Commissioner Bratton.

The concerns that existed a few years ago surrounding this kind of x-ray technology, including radiation exposure, and the ability to see "too" much are still with us, according to NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman.

“We don’t know exactly what they’re doing, how they're using it, whether there are any health risks,” said Lieberman.

The NYCLU has already joined a lawsuit aiming to force the NYPD to disclose the particulars of the x-ray van’s use…including how it uses the data.

“Well this is going into much more private areas. The surveillance cameras are capturing you on the street. And x-rays have health risks. When you get an x-ray at the dentist, they put a shield on you so that the dentist doesn’t get exposed, and so you don’t get more exposure,” said Lieberman.