Stop and Frisk in NYC: Wireless Style

Jan 25, 2013
2:44 PM

The NYPD is currently testing a technology that they claim will help make us all safer. They claim that this will aid law enforcement in locating illegal guns in the city. The technology detects the energy our bodies emit, a gun would block or cover that emission and reveal its shape or simply show that something is there. The actual area covered where the weapon is hidden would not show an energy emission and thereby display the possible gun. If you want more information about the technology, then read up on “Terahertz Imaging Detection‘.


The topic I really want to talk about is whether or not employing this technology is right or wrong. Not that it makes any difference, as our government does pretty much whatever they want. But I’m not going to make this about politics—let’s stay on track for just a moment. My question to you all is the following: What do you think of this scanner technology? Does it violate the Fourth Amendment? Is it actually more intrusive than “stop and frisk” without the actual physical contact?

From Wikipedia (because we know if it’s on wiki, it’s true):

The Fourth Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to bejudicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

I must confess I have very mixed feelings about this new technology. It has been a topic of heavy discussion with my friends. Fellow Latino Rebels contributor and Author of “Next Stop“, a book (shameless plug, cause it’s relevant) in which he discusses his own personal involvement in gun running, Ivan Sanchez shares my view:

I’m honestly on the fence about this one… As I told my buddy @ARodomus, I’m all in favor of law-abiding citizens arming and protecting themselves… I’m just not in favor of the hoods on the corner so freely being able to arm themselves for the sake of preying on their communities… This is a tough one because as long as the Sullivan Act [the city’s gun control measure] remains a law in NYC, honest, hard-working citizens will never have the right to bear arms, leaving them at a great disadvantage in regards to protecting themselves and their families… On the flip side, would they be more protected if these scanners removed guns from the hands of criminals?

In essence we concluded that though we both support the scanner technology, yet at the same time we are both quite wary of it. I quoted Ivan because I felt we share similar views on this ever-growing gun debate, and if you read his book, then you know that he has plenty of experience in this field.

Growing up “down these mean streets” (another shameless plug for one of the greatest authors ever, the late great Mr. Piri Thomas) of NYC, there are many times that I wish something like this had existed. Let’s be honest here, if you are CARRYING a gun in NYC, you are probably not a good guy. Legally, only law enforcement can carry a weapon and only under very rare and very special cases can a civilian have a concealed gun. NYC is pretty much a gun-free zone, except for law enforcement and the bad guys. As such, it stands to reason the odds are favorable that if a person is packing heat (carrying a gun) in a high-crime area, this is not a good guy.


The scanner technology  would have saved many of my friends growing up, and it CAN potentially save lives today. I can appreciate and understand the potential for good use here. Being completely aware that anyone carrying a gun (aside from law enforcement) in NYC is probably a bad guy, I don’t think this move is a terrible thing for New Yorkers. On that same note I feel great concern about what this means for our existing privacy and Fourth Amendment rights. Stop and frisk has been the subject of many a debate, and this plan follows that same concept, but wirelessly, so to speak.

Seeing as though New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not fond of Second Amendment rights, it is no surprise that the city is now looking to use that issue as a ladder to infringe upon our Fourth Amendment rights, too. Where do we draw the line as to how much power the government can have over the private law-abiding citizens of the land? What’s to say that soon they won’t want the ability to look inside our apartments? All these current events make me very anxious. They feel like the precursor to some insane film where it will end up being the people against a crazy, power-hungry, evil, corrupt government. It may sound funny now, but it is still terribly frightening.

All this being said, I can easily stand on either side of this argument. But supporting this move by the city worries me because I still ask myself: where will they go with this? What’s next? Knives? Forks? Keys? Consider my points and share your own thoughts: where do you stand on this topic?


6c7b36e3dbc384b78dc831884d4fe595Angel Rodriguez is the publisher of, a page that “covers current affairs, business reviews, fashion advice, opinion and commentary, along with random musings from time to time.” Angel is a Bronx boricua, poet, rapper, and a US Air Force vet. You can follow him on Twitter @arodomus