Judge Orders NYPD to Release Records on X-ray Vans
The NYPD has a secretive program that uses unmarked vans with X-ray machines designed to detect bombs. ProPublica tried to find out more about it, but the NYPD refused to answer for three years.
This story was updated at 12:55 p.m.
A state judge has ordered the New York City Police Department to release records on a secretive program that uses unmarked vans equipped with X-ray machines to detect bombs.
ProPublica filed the request as part of its investigation into the proliferation of security equipment, including airport body scanners, that expose people to ionizing radiation, which can mutate DNA and increase the risk of cancer.
Richard Daddario, then the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of counterterrorism, told the court in 2013 that releasing the documents would hamper the department’s ability to conduct operations and endanger the lives of New Yorkers.
Disclosing them, he said, would “permit those seeking to evade detection to conform their conduct to the times, places and methods that avoid NYPD presence and are thus most likely to yield a successful attack.”
But Supreme Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan called the NYPD’s argument “mere speculation” and “patently insufficient” to outweigh the public’s right to know.
“While this court is cognizant and sensitive to concerns about terrorism, being located less than a mile from the 9/11 site, and having seen firsthand the effects of terrorist destruction, nonetheless, the hallmark of our great nation is that it is a democracy, with a transparent government,” she wrote in her decision last month.
Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city’s law department, said Thursday that the NYPD would appeal “because disclosing this sensitive information would compromise public safety.”