(Photo courtesy of Metro)

New body scanners are being deployed across the Los Angeles transit system, including potentially at Santa Monica Expo stations.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has partnered with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to develop the portable scanners that can help detect weapons and explosives. Metro is the first surface transit agency in the country to buy the new scanners.

“Metro has been an industry leader in testing new technologies to meet evolving threats to our public transportation infrastructure,” said Sheila Kuehl, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair in a statement. “This new technology will augment our already aggressive safety and security measures and help us proactively deter potential attacks to our system.”

Metro worked with the TSA for about a year to test the Thruvision TAC-TS4 portable terahertz millimeter wave passenger screening devices.

Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said the units can be placed anywhere in the system and are completely passive.

The benefit of these is that they are not enormous so we can easily move them around when needed,” he said. “They are perfect for when there are major venues near transit and we expect a major influx of people, we can easily move the equipment to that station.”

According to Metro, the human body produces naturally- occurring waves that are blocked when an item is hidden in clothing or strapped to an individual. The scanner can identify that block and the software can notify security officers of the item’s location. The scanners do not emit radiation of any kind and no anatomical details are displayed.

Sotero said the device allows law enforcement agents and Metro Security to screen train or bus riders without disrupting foot traffic.

“That’s one of the key advantages of the technology, it doesn’t interfere with people who are going to work or getting where they are going,” he said.

Each unit costs about $100,000 and details of their placement are not being publicly released. Sotero said Metro will be evaluating the effectiveness of the units and will incorporate additional layers of security as needed at any specific location.

“TSA applauds the leadership of L.A. Metro for its proactive efforts to evaluate, procure and use state-of-the-art technology designed to detect potential threats to the transit system,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “TSA is pleased to have been a partner during the evaluation and testing process, which ultimately led to the purchase of a recommended system to help detect and deter potential acts of terrorism while keeping the traveling public safe.”

Metro transports about 1.3 million people a day on its bus and rail lines. For more information about Metro’s Safety and Security Program, visit www.metro.net/safety.

editor@smdp.com