NYPD deploys mobile radiation detectors

Published 7 July 2009

DHS gives the NYPD three SUVs equipped with sophisticated radiation detectors; each monitor cost $450,000

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has received a gift from the DHS: three Advanced Spectroscopic Portal Monitors to search the city for dirty bombs. The state-of-the-art radiation detectors will be fitted into three NYPD sports-utility vehicles and will be stationed at the entrances of tunnels, bridges, and toll booths. Each monitor costs $450,000, thus New York City is receiving a $1.35 million gift from the federal government. The Daily News reports:

The detectors had been purchased by DHS’ National Nuclear Detection Office for use at the nation’s ports, but officials concluded they weren’t strong enough to penetrate ship containers, sources said.

The devices were then given to the NYPD for free. Officials believe they will be able to detect radioactive isotopes emanating from a dirty bomb in the back of a car.

In late June, the Government Accountability Office (GAOdetermined that the new radiation detectors developed for use across U.S. ports were only marginally better than those currently in use. Matthew Harwood writes that because of their modest improvement in radiation detection, Congress has balked at the almost three-fold increase in cost to field these monitors as opposed to current monitors.

At a current cost of $308,000 each for the current system to $822,000 for each new machine is not a small matter. The taxpayer must be assured that an extra one half million dollars per machine will benefit our national security and the public’s safety,” Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

In further preparation for the prospect of radiological-based terrorism, the NYPD has also purchased 8,000 Dosimeters, a pager-sized device that warns of radioactive hot-spots.