Police helicopters will be able to read license plates. Officers will carry backpacks designed to detect dirty bombs. And blimp-like detectors may hover over the city, scanning for chemical and other threats. Those are some of an array of high-tech gadgets that will help secure the city against terrorism, reports the Associated Press. The Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and more recent scares–such as a plot to blow up the aviation fuel system at John F. Kennedy International Airport–have cemented a belief at the nation’s largest police department that “technology must match the actual problems we face,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
The NYPD has been developing mobile radiation detectors that can be mounted on cars or bicycles to alert officers to evidence of a dirty bomb, an explosive designed to contaminate areas with radioactive dust and debris. Another version would be worn like a backpack by officers “who are patrolling large venues like Yankee Stadium or the United Nations,” Kelly said. He said the NYPD has recently unveiled a new helicopter “loaded with the most comprehensive high-tech surveillance and tracking equipment on the market.” The department’s half-dozen helicopters will be fitted with license-plate readers–already installed in some patrol cars–in their tours over bridges, power plants and chemical storage facilities. Police envision using devices similar to blimps for surveillance and detection of chemical, biological and radiological threats.