These vehicles, known as Z Backscatter Vans, have the ability to see inside cars and even homes as a “counter-terrorsim” measure. The New York Civil Liberties Union has been been asking NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to shed some light on these vehicles, but he's been tight-lipped about it.
“Those issues I'd prefer not to divulge to the public at this time,” Bratton said in a story by the New York Post. “I will not talk about anything at all about this — it falls into the range of security and counter-terrorism activity that we engage in.”
The NYCLU has requested to file an amicus brief on the grounds that the public not knowing what they're being used for or if they could be harmful to human health.
Are the NYPD's X-ray vans harmful to health?
“People should be informed if military-grade X-ray vans are damaging their health with radiation or peering inside their homes or cars. New Yorkers have a right to protect their wealth, welfare, and privacy,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
This is coming at a time when police officers are under severe scrutiny from both the public and the media. The strange thing about this situation is that the some of the same groups who are calling this an invasion of privacy are the same people calling for police officers to wear body cams in order to punish those who treat people different because of race. While counter-terrorism measures are important, especially with the ISIS threat spreading across the West, using X-ray technology on civilians is something that shouldn't be happening.