Port Authority cops test weapons scanners

Eight months after a man detonated a pipe bomb inside a walkway at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Port Authority Police and the TSA are testing a new high-tech tool that they say would make it easier for them to thwart a terror attack.

More than a quarter of a million people a day pass through the bus terminal. Keeping them safe is not an easy task. That is why the Port Authority is doing a three-day test of equipment that can detect, from a distance, if someone has a bomb vest, explosive device or gun on them.

The device is called a standoff explosive detection unit. It looks like a small camera and can be mounted on a tripod or wall. It doesn't do video surveillance but rather is capable of detecting from a distance of about 50 feet if someone has a bomb vest or explosive device on them.

Standoff explosive detection units are part of the growing field of long-range detection security equipment. The advantages are many. No long lines at security screening checkpoints and no physical invasive body searches. They can scan through crowds at a range of up to 50 feet.

The units utilize millimeter-wave technology to scan when a person's natural body emissions are blocked by a metallic or non-metallic object. Officers at other locations can remotely monitor the scans. The units are designed to work in crowded transportation hubs.

In December 2017, an ISIS-inspired terrorist detonated a suicide bomb vest in a subway connecting tunnel underneath the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Eight hero port Authority police officers, two of whom were bomb techs in the military, rushed to dismantle the bomb by hand.

These new devices may have prevented that.

The TSA began testing these devices in February around the country, including at Penn Station in Manhattan. The devices could become a permanent tool in the fight against terrorism.