TSA and LA MTA partner on a project of a new device that can detect suicide vests

Staff Report | DFW Newsflash | December 2017

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is partnering with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LAMTA) on a new device that can help officials detect whether an individual is concealing an improvised explosive device.

The passive system, known as a stand-off explosive detection unit, triggers an alarm if an individual carrying/wearing a person-borne improvised explosive device (PBIED) passes by the mechanism. It is a type of screening technology that can be used by transit agencies to detect potential threats—metallic or non-metallic—by identifying objects that block the naturally-occurring emissions emitted by a person’s body. No radiation of any kind is emitted by the unit, and no anatomical details of a person are displayed. The operator of the equipment sees a camera image of a person, similar to what the person looks like to the plain eye.

The use of such a device enables a transit agency to help safeguard against terrorist threats in the mass transit environment. It is operated by employees of the transit agency, not by TSA. TSA is, however, supplying the equipment for the purposes of the demonstration.

“Along with industry partners, we are committed to identifying, testing and deploying technology that addresses threats to transportation across the spectrum,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “We need to innovate and evolve faster than the adversary, and more importantly, deploy technology ahead of the threat-curve,” he added.

TSA has been working with five passenger rail and transit agencies as test beds on demonstrations of this type of security equipment since 2004, including Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority.