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Los Angeles deploying body scanners to screen subway passengers

The L.A. Metro will be the first mass transit system in the U.S. to deploy body scanners to screen passengers. The screening devices can screen the bodies of passengers as they walk through the Metro station. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

In an effort to beef up security, Los Angeles will become the first U.S. city to deploy body scanners in its subway system to screen passengers.

Oh, great. Is it going to be like airport screening?

The TSA has teamed up with several U.S. cities over the past year, testing various screening devices on mass transit systems. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the first to commit to installing scanners systemwide.

"The Transportation Security Administration has partnered with Metro to deploy a new advanced portable passenger screening technology that will help detect weapon and explosive device security threats on the county's transit system," according to a joint statement released by the authorities on Tuesday.

Officials insist these new scanners won't delay travel. The Thruvision screening devices purchased by the city can screen the bodies of passengers as they walk through the Metro station — no need for lining up single-file or walking into a transparent booth, arms raised.

In fact, according to L.A. Metro spokesman Dave Sotero, "Most people won't even know they're being scanned, so there's no risk of them missing their train on a daily basis."

Officials plan to have scanners set up in the coming months, but noted that not every passenger would be screened. NPR reported that the Thruvision devices — which are portable — will only be placed in a few stations, and may be moved either randomly or strategically.

"We're looking specifically for weapons that have the ability to cause a mass-casualty event," Alex Wiggins, head of the LACMTA's law enforcement division, told reporters at a news conference. "We're looking for explosive vests, we're looking for assault rifles. We're not necessarily looking for smaller weapons that don't have the ability to inflict mass casualties."

Anything else?

The TSA has also been testing scanning devices in the transit systems of San Francisco, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C.

"We're dealing with persistent threats to our transportation systems in our country," TSA Administrator David Pekoske told the media Tuesday. "Our job is to ensure security in the transportation systems so that a terrorist incident does not happen on our watch."

One last thing…
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