by William K. Rashbaum, New York Times
As a part of the Police Department's new measures to guard against
potential terrorism, radiation detectors will be installed outside several
city buildings, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday. City
Hall will probably be among the locations, he said.
The police department installed one of four of the new portable detectors
outside police headquarters in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, and officials
said another would be set up outside the building's garage. The department's
bomb squad and its emergency services unit will use two others.
"There will be those sorts of devices in other city buildings, when and
where I can't tell you specifically, but clearly that is the goal of the
city administration," Mr. Kelly said, adding that City Hall would probably
The devices, which cost about $11,000 each, could help spot a so-called
dirty bomb, a conventional explosive wrapped in radioactive material.
Such detectors, according to one official familiar with their use, are
already used in Washington, outside the White House and the Capitol.
Yesterday, at 1 Police Plaza, some police officers, officials and
visitors passed through the unobtrusive detector unperturbed, but others
took notice. "It's kind of scary it's a little too close for
comfort," one officer said.
But Mr. Kelly said prudence demanded the use of the devices, each of
which are anchored by a pair of black cylinders about 7 feet tall and 3
inches in diameter.
Several other officials in New York and Washington agreed with Mr.
"I think the kind of vigilance the Police Department is using is right
target," Jerome M. Hauer, the director of the federal Office of Public
Health Preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services, said
a telephone interview. "As we continue to have heightened concerns about
potential threats in this country, I think it's important to look at
critical facilities like police headquarters and use the best available
technology to protect them."
Mr. Hauer, who was the director of the city's Office of Emergency
Management from 1996 to 2000 under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, said, "We
to be concerned about unconventional weapons, particularly one that is not
necessarily a weapon of mass destruction, but certainly a dirty bomb is
weapon of mass disruption because of the anxiety it creates."
He said such a bomb could sow panic by spewing radioactive material and
contaminating an area of several square blocks.
Police officials have said that the radiation detectors were bought as
precautionary measure and that there had been no specific threats that
prompted their installation.
The devices, manufactured by a Longmont, Colo., company called TSA
Systems Ltd. and sold by Saint-Gobain Crystals and Detectors in Solon, Ohio,
were originally designed for use at nuclear power plants and other nuclear
facilities in case of accident, said Charlie Schnurr, vice president of
Systems. The federal Emergency Management Agency, in conjunction with the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, required the installations, Mr. Schnurr
The detectors can be set up in just minutes and weigh 90 pounds each,
according to TSA's product information. They can be packed up into a storage
bag about 6 1/2 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide.
They will supplement about 250 belt-worn radiation detectors that the
department also bought from Saint-Gobain, Mr. Kelly said. Those devices
designed to form a sort of moving detection curtain so that police officers
can be on the street interacting with the public as they seek to detect
Saint-Gobain's regional sales manager, Jim Mondine, said the larger
portable detectors could serve many purposes, not only for the city and
Police Department, but also for the private sector. "These would be ideal
set up, say, at Yankee Stadium at a baseball game," he said, "or in front
the New York Stock Exchange."