As part of an anti-terrorism effort, the Los Angeles Police Department is equipping a helicopter and officers on the ground with devices capable of detecting potential radiological weapons or materials used in so-called dirty bombs, says the Los Angeles Times. Police Chief William Bratton said a new suitcase-sized device for one of the choppers can detect “radiation signatures” from up to 800 feet above ground. In addition, the department bought six hand-held units that officers on the ground can use.
The devices are among several items the city acquired with $3 million in Homeland Security funds. Bratton said the threat from suicide bombers as demonstrated in Israel is real and that it’s only a matter of time before an attempt is made on U.S. soil. Police officials showed off a $900,000 bomb squad response truck equipped with a robot. The robot has been modified to address the threat of suicide bombers. Bomb squad officers can operate the robot from up to a mile away. Bratton also said that Los Angeles may be on track to have fewer than 400 homicides this year for the first time since 1970. Since Jan. 1, there have been 280 killings, 53 fewer than at this time last year, down more than 15 percent.