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Law enforcement agencies have been using handheld radars to see inside homes for years

By Shawn Knight · 23 replies
Jan 21, 2015
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  1. Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. are quietly using a radar-style device that allows officers to look through walls to determine if anyone is inside a home. At least 50 agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, are...

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  2. ArdvarkMaster

    ArdvarkMaster TS Booster Posts: 31   +25

    Laws.... We don't need no steenkin' laws. We got badges.
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,751   +3,173

    And guns .... lots and lots of guns, unless we just want to strangle you!
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,058   +1,456

    Heaven forbid if they know if someone is in a house and moving! ;P
  5. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,285

    It comes as no real surprise, you can't even pick your nose nowadays without the authorities knowing and cataloging it. And we thought they were just eyeballing our private data...
  6. I bet thieves could use this to an advantage.
  7. Thieves with six grand to waste aren't going to use it on gadgets like this. The biggest threat to a burglary isn't an occupied home, it's the residents in the vicinity that summon the police upon witnessing the suspicious activity. Nothing says conspicuous like whipping out fancy tech and waving it at someone's house.
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,347   +3,583

    It's not only picking your nose you have to worry about. Should you fart, it's liable to be picked up by infrared imaging! Next thing you know, you'll be standing there with a police dog's nose up your backside.....:eek:
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  9. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,118   +1,390

    It's official, the world has gone completely nuts. You now need a warrant to use something to see if someone's home? That would imply that peeking in a window would also be a violation of the 4th amendment. If the officer is in a patrol car out in the street and looks in a window of a house is that a violation of the 4th amendment?

    Maybe I'm the one who's nuts, but I don't care at all if a swat team checks to see where the perps are before busting down a door. Or worse yet, checks to see if anyone is in the bedrooms (like kids) before chucking a flashbang through a window of a drug house.

    The 4th amendment prevents unreasonable search and seizure. Key word there.... unreasonable. Considering knowing if you're home to be 'unreasonable' is a rather extreme stretch of that definition. Which I guess isn't unreasonable for someone from the ACLU.
  10. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,454   +2,136

    Until human beings develop x-ray vision, you better believe its unreasonable. Their using military-grade technology to LOOK THROUGH WALLS which hardly compares to USING YOUR EYES. What part about the dangers of giving a beat cop this tech don't you comprehend? I suppose you're also cool with cops having super microphones that can hear everything going on in a home, or actual x-ray devices to truly see through walls? See, when you give up one civil liberty you only encourage the government to take more - kind of like how giving a bum a dollar makes him a more aggressive beggar. So while I would typically oppose ANYTHING the ACLU supports, in this particular instance their right.
  11. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,285

    More like face down, spreadeagled on the deck with a police hyena towering above you.
    captaincranky likes this.
  12. I must side with @psycros on this one. The real problem here comes from the precedent, not the intended good will of the police.

    Say, for instance, an upgraded version of this technology is made available to traditional law enforcement, enabling them to actually see through walls rather than merely identify the location of occupants within a structure. If it is already reasonable for the unwarranted scanning of a property with the previous technology, it is perfectly reasonable that officers be allowed to use newer, more effective technology capable of translating signals into detailed images. The reason for this is that it makes law enforcement safer for both police and civilians.

    The argument, when it is delivered several years from now, will work somewhat like this:

    1. Scanners that process images enable officers to positively ID occupants.
    2. Scanners that process images enable officers to determine if there are weapons on occupants.
    3. Scanners that process images enable officers to determine if there are weapons on the premises.
    4. (3) enables officers to select the appropriate level of force.
    5. (4) will save lives by preventing the use of lethal force in situations that don't call for lethal force.
    6. (1) does not violate rights, as occupants can already be identified by address and license plate information.
    7. Therefore, scanners that process images makes law enforcement safer and more effective.

    (6) will likely take the form of a more Hogwarts School of Legalism and Trickery argument, but you can bank on the overall position. The slippery slope that exists in law enforcement has been thoroughly demonstrated to be about as fallacious as the fundamental principles of gravitation.

    Safer, more effective law enforcement will not be achieved by handing increasingly powerful weapons and technology to blue uniforms. If the American public wants to be safer, what needs to change are the policies and guidelines that LEOs follow during the execution of their jobs.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,347   +3,583

    What can I say? I'm an optimist, and you're a pessimist.:p
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  14. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,118   +1,390

    What part of the story did it say they could look through a wall? The device can show you where a human (or pet I presume) is located behind a wall. I'm still confused on how that's more invasive than looking through a window to actually see what's on the other side of the wall.

    And what part of the dangers don't I comprehend? All of them I guess. Do these things cause cancer? Are we worried cops are going to see where the humans are and start shooting through the wall? Check the headline again... they've been doing this for YEARS. Do you know why it's making news now? It's because of the NSA fiasco, which actually IS a 4th amendment problem. 2 years ago no one would have cared two cents for this story, but now we're all privacy happy and this sort of thing is clickbait. If it were as dangerous as you say we'd have heard about it a long time ago... like NY's stop and frisk law, and Arizona's law to check greencards. We didn't hear about it because it's no big deal. And as soon as we get a real law enforcement privacy problem this will be no big deal once again.

    Am I cool with x-ray vision and 'super microphones'? No, I don't think cops should have super powers. (Boy, this escalated quickly!) But this device was obviously designed to prevent a soldier from having to stick his head in a window before entering a building because sticking his head in would probably result in it getting blown off. They're not using infrared night vision to watch couples in bed... save your freaking out for something to freak out about.
    Hexic likes this.
  15. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 445   +273

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    The feds can track where you drive, everywhere your phone is, everything you do on phone, your physical location via street cameras/satellites, your spending habits by your bank statements, hone in on the image of a face of a penny on the side walk from SPACE, reasonably predict your daily movement (if these bad guys so desire) from said information....

    And we're all panicking about tech that's been used for two years in the field, and hardware/software that's outdated in technology and application!

    For those who actually realize that the every day technology we interact with (and have allowed to be put to use - that's you all, taxpayers) is tenfold more 'intrusive' then this crap that everyone is crying over - maybe the ACLU may not be a poor excuse of existence 90% of the time.

    If the government (all locales - federal, state, county, city, etc.) really wanted to watch you... really, really wanted to go full 1985 -- you would have no clue it would be happening until it's too late.

    You have to draw a line and put your trust somewhere, peeps. Technology is evolving, which means crime can also increase in complexity. Would you rather leave the authorities charged with your safety [potentially] without the tools to most effectively do their job? If you don't like others watching you, then live on your own island. Then all you'll have to worry about is satellites. And death. Everywhere.
    MilwaukeeMike likes this.
  16. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,285

    Nonsense. I'm an optimistic pessimist.
  17. @Hexic It's about having an open conversation in society to determine what the boundaries are of acceptability. Of external threat risk vs government threat risk. Of personal rights vs society rights. The point is to have an open conversation and come to an understanding as a society that works for most people.
  18. Which only serves to prove the point made by the doomsayers in this thread. Recall, all of the surveillance revelations of the past two years were relegated to the conspiracy bin right until a treasonous knucklehead decided to make a name for himself. This is not to mention all of the secret legal judgements that enabled that surveillance, which was not made known to the public until years after the fact.

    By your own statement, this nonsense is "full 1984" in spades.
  19. umbala

    umbala TS Maniac Posts: 197   +176

    This is a typical "I can't see the forest through the trees" type of argument. It's very easy to erode our civil liberties little by little over a long period of time without people noticing what's going on. This kind of reminds me when people say things like "If you're not doing anything illegal or suspicious, then you should have no problem with the police looking into your house to see what you're doing!", which is totally not the point. To quote a famous man;

    "The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed."

    ...and that famous man was Adolf Hitler.
  20. I feel my own government is more of a threat to my privacy, freedom and peace of mind than any terrorist
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2015
  21. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 445   +273

    I completely agree - and albeit via sarcasm, that's the point I was trying to convey.. as my last paragraph stated. There is a line between government omnipotence vs. external threat security. With technology evolving so fast, the possibility of new ways to be taken advantage of, or (such as this thread) new development of peacekeeping tools is inevitable.

    One must keep the evolution of technology in mind while debating these privacy topics -because you can't use the same 'they [the government] need to know very little' mentality anymore. It won't work. The outside world wanting to mess us up will try anything and everything to get an edge on us, and it's our government's job to protect from as much of that as humanly possible - with respect to privacy rights. I'm not ignoring the rights of everyone to privacy at all, I completely believe Orwell's ideology is possible with enough time and lax standards. Believe it or not, there is a point where new lines will be drawn (we're damn close, if not already there) to what realistically consists of privacy to an extent. Not radical lines, but unfamiliar for some who don't consider all variables in the total equation, controlled and uncontrolled.

    But honestly.. making rash statements such as 'I'm more scared of my own government then any foreign entity out there' off of a piece of equipment, instead of maybe..
    Enlist and serve one tour in the campaign out east. You'll experience what real tyranny is. Foreign and domestic.
  22. Emexrulsier

    Emexrulsier TS Evangelist Posts: 591   +76

    If this is a really a device why are they showing pictures of a model or fake product. Look at the display on the image where it is showing scan and 30ft etc thats just a sticker. They have shown a picture of a toy if that.
  23. The problem isn't so much that they're checking to see if you're home - the problem comes in when they don't get the address right, which has become a problem lately - odd they can make use of thousands of dollars of military hardware and train with military grade weapons, but can't seem to do basic police work to verify an address. In which case, then what they're doing is checking to see if you're home not to knock on the door... but to kick it in, with tear gas, guns drawn, etc., and yes, that I DO have an issue with.

    You kick in my door, slam me to the ground, all but burn up my house with tear gas grenades - you damn well better have a warrant, and it damn well better be for my address, and I damn well better have done something.

    Let's work a bit more on the accuracy of our information and police work leading up to the police action... and maybe the public won't have an issue with using more gear like this. I have no issue with police using gear like this to save lives and help, but more and more we're seeing military hardware in the hands of people that haven't mastered civilian level detective work yet.
  24. Hexic

    Hexic TS Evangelist Posts: 445   +273

    That's not an issue of hardware, that's an issue of intelligence gathering prior.

    The event of getting the wrong address is extremely rare in the grand scheme of forced entries. It may be happening more than it has in the past, or it may simply be reported more heavily because of the hysteria certain individuals are attempting to place upon law enforcement overall.

    Either way, an example of picking the wrong address is terrible, and the owner(s) of said residence should be fully compensated plus something extra, in my own opinion. But these are rare cases.. and one can't generalize an argument over a rare anomaly. Doesn't hold up at all in debate.

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