LACMTA, TSA partner on advanced passenger screening system

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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LACMTA has partnered with TSA to deploy a portable weapon and explosive detection device. Above is how the detection software displays on a computer screen. | Photo: LACMTA

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are partnering up to deploy an advanced portable passenger screening technology that officials said will help detect weapon and explosive device security threats on the transit system.

LACMTA is the first surface transportation agency in the U.S. to purchase such a security device to prevent security threats from explosive devices or other weapons that are intended to cause mass casualties, officials said.

After many tests throughout the past year of TSA-vetted and approved security technologies at its stations, LACMTA has purchased several Thruvision TAC-TS4 portable terahertz millimeter wave passenger screening devices.

The units can be placed at locations throughout the transit system and are equipped with software that screens individuals for concealed threats in a fast and unobtrusive manner. The units are capable of identifying both metallic and non-metallic objects, LACMTA said.

The devices identify objects that block the naturally-occurring waves produced by a person’s body. When an object is hidden in clothing or strapped to a person, these waves are blocked and detected by the system’s software.

The software develops generic avatars and identifies either a black spot on the area of the body where the item is concealed or overlays a color indicator, officials explained.

The technology does not emit radiation of any kind and no anatomical details are displayed. The device allows law enforcement agents and LACMTA security officials to screen rail and bus patrons without disrupting foot traffic and to take decisive, pre-emptive action if suspicious items are found.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske gathered with LACMTA officials Aug. 14 to view the systems’ capabilities at Los Angeles Union Station.

“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,” Pekoske said. “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.”

The Thruvision technology was tested extensively by TSA, and officials said LACMTA tested the technology at its 7th Street/Metro Center Station during the past year.

“This new technology will augment our already aggressive safety and security measures and help us proactively deter potential attacks to our system,” said Sheila Kuehl, L.A. County Supervisor and LACMTA Board Chair.

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