LA Metro to use passive body scanners to detect bombs

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LOS ANGELES — The Transportation Security Administration has partnered with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to deploy a new advanced portable passenger screening technology that will help detect weapon and explosive device security threats on the county’s transit system.

Metro is the first surface transportation agency in the nation to purchase such an advanced, high-tech security device to help keep transit riders safe from person-borne improvised explosive devices or other weapons that are intended to cause mass casualties.

Following a series of tests over the last year of TSA-vetted and approved security technologies at its stations, Metro has now purchased several Thruvision TAC-TS4 portable terahertz millimeter wave passenger screening devices. The units can be placed at locations throughout the Metro system and are equipped with software that quickly and unobtrusively screens individuals for concealed threats. The units can identify both metallic and non-metallic objects.

The devices identify objects that block the naturally occurring waves produced by a person’s body. When an object is hidden in clothing or strapped to a person, these waves are blocked and detected by the system’s software. The software generates generic avatars and creates either a black spot on the area of the body where the item is concealed or overlays a color indicator. The technology does not emit radiation of any kind and no anatomical details are displayed. The device allows law enforcement agents and Metro Security to screen rail and bus patrons without disrupting foot traffic and to take decisive, pre-emptive action if suspicious items are found.

Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske joined with local Metro officials today to view the systems’ capabilities at Los Angeles Union Station.

“TSA applauds the leadership of L.A. Metro for its proactive efforts to evaluate, procure and use state-of-the-art technology designed to detect potential threats to the transit system,” said TSA Administrator Pekoske. “TSA is pleased to have been a partner during the evaluation and testing process, which ultimately led to the purchase of a recommended system to help detect and deter potential acts of terrorism while keeping the traveling public safe.”

The Thruvision technology was tested extensively by TSA. Metro tested the technology at its 7th Street/Metro Center Station over the last year.

“Metro has been an industry leader in testing new technologies to meet evolving threats to our public transportation infrastructure,” said Sheila Kuehl, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair. “This new technology will augment our already aggressive safety and security measures and help us proactively deter potential attacks to our system.”

— An LA Metro news release. Aug. 14, 2018.
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