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Detecting Concealed Weapons: Technology Research at the National Institute of Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2001
5 pages
This article describes the research on weapons-detection technology being conducted by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
NIJ's Office of Science and Technology (OS&T) is responsible for identifying and developing new technologies for use by corrections and criminal justice professionals, including research into improved weapons detection. Although the infrastructure protection program is barely 5 years old, it has already resulted in the commercialization of an improved walk-through weapons detection portal, developed by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental laboratory in Idaho Falls. This device uses fluxgate magnetometers to detect changes in the Earth's magnetic field caused by magnetic material found in weapons carried through it. It can detect weapons with even a small ferrous (iron) content, an advantage over current portals. An inherent disadvantage of existing portal systems, however, is that they cannot be operated from a distance, thus placing operators at risk of having a concealed weapon used against them. Portable systems under development that offer remote operation include a system that uses millimeter wave imaging and one that uses a hybrid of radar and infrared sensors. NIJ also has funded Quantum Magnetics to develop a device for noninvasive body cavity screening that uses magnetic resonance imaging. NIJ is pursuing multiple technical approaches to increase the chance of producing one or more highly effective devices. Each approach has different advantages and limitations. NIJ's Law Enforcement and Corrections Standards and Testing Program takes a comprehensive look at the capabilities and shortcoming of existing technologies and reports them to the field. This program also develops rigorous scientific standards against which laboratories can test technologies. The Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES) operates the Standards and Testing Program. 1 reference

Date Published: July 1, 2001