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Hand-Held Bomb Detectors to Debut on N.Y. Subways

November 12, 2005|Rocco Parascandola | Newsday

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department unveiled a high-tech gizmo in its war on terrorism Friday: machines that look like portable vacuum cleaners but can detect explosives.

The $25,000 hand-held device -- and several desktop versions, each $50,000 -- will be used in random searches in the subway system.

Police officers trained in "trace explosive detection technology" -- about 500 so far, with more officers likely to be trained -- will run a swab over a straphanger's bag, then feed the swab into the machine. About eight seconds later, the device tells the officer whether the bag has traces of explosives.

The device can detect plastic, commercial and military explosives, according to manufacturers' websites.

The department is to start using the detectors next week.

Similar technology is used at airports and by the U.S. military.

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