Ready, aim, prosecute

Summary:CDEX, Inc. has developed (though it still needs a lot of field testing) a nifty, yellow, $10,000 UV-based gun that will detect trace amounts of illegal substances on a surface such as a door handle or (presumably) your lips.

CDEX, Inc. has developed (though it still needs a lot of field testing) a nifty, yellow, $10,000 UV-based gun that will detect trace amounts of illegal substances on a surface such as a door handle or (presumably) your lips. No word on its range, and apparently it'll have to go through a lot of bureaucracy before it's unholstered by your local gendarme, but it's an intriguing piece of technology nonetheless.

So what?

While it's easy to imagine using the technology on an arrestee (just to see if there's anything else you can pin on him), it's also easy to imagine using it at routine traffic stops or stadium entrances or on the pan-tilt-zoom cameras that increasingly scan our urban spaces. (Yes, I'm projecting a possibly infeasible scale-up in order to frighten you, but this level of technology will certainly be available someday.) Enjoy the pleasant little shiver that comes from contemplating reduced civil liberties, and then relax: No less august a body than the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has determined that you need probable cause before you use drug detection technology (such as a police pooch)--evidence derived from detection alone will be thrown out. Of course, they could change their minds. But don't be concerned: That could only happen if SCOTUS became more conservative on search and seizure issues. Oh, wait...

Topics: Legal

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