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Connecticut Resident Stopped By State Police For Radioactivity 545

Posted by Soulskill
from the driving-while-ionized dept.
Okian Warrior writes "A Milford, CT man was pulled over when a state police car radioactivity scanner flagged his car as being radioactive. The man had been given a cardiac exam using radioactive dye, and had a note from his physician attesting to this, but it raises questions about the legality of the stop. Given that it is not illegal to own or purchase or transport radioactive materials (within limits for hobbyist use), should the police be allowed to stop and search vehicles which show a slight level of radioactivity?"
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Connecticut Resident Stopped By State Police For Radioactivity

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  • So (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:26AM (#39984325) Homepage Journal

    Did they shoot him, claim it was self-defense, and ship his remains to Gitmo? Or did they check out his story and send him on his way?

    Seems like a non-story to me.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Funny)

      by jhoegl (638955) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:29AM (#39984333)
      Well, the good news is they can use these things to find alien abduction people.
      Nothin' says anal probe like latent radioactivity. WOO!
    • by Nutria (679911)

      +1.

      Where's my mod points when I *really* need them?

      Actually though, it is a story. Bravo to the CT Post for not sensationalizing it. Wish they'd have said what the police did to him, though.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by marcello_dl (667940) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:14AM (#39984539) Homepage Journal

      I is indeed a story of police doing regular police works (false alarms are unavoidable). Given that it is the third slashdot story about police/tsa behaving normally that I read recently, i wonder if slashdot is trolling us. (not the site itself, of course, but some guys strangely interested in us having our eyes roll when we see police or TSA mentioned)

      • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fuzzywig (208937) <default.fuzz@g m a i l . com> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:31AM (#39984615)
        Or possibly it's some guys strangely interested in trying to bring balance by submitting stories with cops acting normally...
      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @10:10AM (#39985693)

        That's kind of the point. Police acting normally includes stopping people on the highway and questioning them when there's no evidence of a crime having been committed.

        What are they going to net in a sweep like this? Mostly patients like the above and delivery trucks with boxes of smoke detectors or lantern gas mantles. Maybe a few scientists.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by readin (838620)
          "evidence of a crime having been committed". In the case the evidence was of a crime about to be committed.

          Evidence of a crime means that you see something out of the ordinary that is consistent with a crime. You stop a car and there is bed sheet soaked in blood in the back, and a machete lying next to it. Evidence of a crime? One could argue that it is just evidence the guy had been hunting and hadn't learned the first thing about how to clean and butcher a deer.

          You stop a car with two guys dress
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MaskedSlacker (911878)

            Given how rare it is for people's cars to give off radiation, and the potential for such radiation to indicate that a catastrophic crime is about to be committed, a police officer would be highly negligent if he didn't stop and investigate such a car.

            I sometimes wonder how my country got so fucked. Then I see ignorant bullshit like this, and I don't wonder anymore.

            It's because people as ignorant as you are running the show. It is NOT rare for cars to give off radiation. These kinds of medical tests are NOT rare. Radiation has NEVER ONCE been evidence of a catastrophic crime about to occur, nor has any crime EVER occurred where radiation detected in advance would have been evidence. Repeat after me: no such crime has EVER occurred. It's a Hollywoo

        • Re:So (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Nemyst (1383049) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @11:28AM (#39986155) Homepage

          The police detected an anomaly and saw fit to investigate. Did they say they suspected the guy of a crime?

          The police shouldn't be seen as just arrest machines. They've more roles than that. What if the guy was hauling radioactive materials below the threshold allowed for civilians but in an unsafe manner? They'd be there to tell him that it's not safe. It's a rare and strange enough occurrence that I don't see a problem with that.

          • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

            by loxosceles (580563) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @11:40AM (#39986231)

            You think that cops should be allowed to detain you (you're placed under temporary arrest during a traffic stop) merely to give you helpful health and safety information?

            • Re:So (Score:4, Insightful)

              by PTBarnum (233319) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @01:20PM (#39986909)

              If you have a broken tail light, a cop will pull you over and tell you to fix it. That's helpful safety information. The cop isn't going to arrest you for that. The word "arrest" has a specific legal meaning, and a traffic stop isn't an arrest.

          • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

            by shiftless (410350) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @01:24PM (#39986945) Homepage

            The police detected an anomaly and saw fit to investigate. Did they say they suspected the guy of a crime?

            His only crime is being the citizen of a police state.

            Of course they didn't suspect him of a crime. Don't you get it? This radiation nonsense is a smoke screen, yet another excuse to randomly pull people over and search them with no reason and against the Constitution. It's the hand of tyranny in action.

            The police shouldn't be seen as just arrest machines. They've more roles than that.

            Absolutely not. There should be minimal numbers of police, just enough to handle serious (actual) crimes. They can butt out of the rest. I do not want the police involved in my life, period. This leads to tyranny every single time.

            What if the guy was hauling radioactive materials below the threshold allowed for civilians but in an unsafe manner?

            What if we followed the Constitution and stopped buying into the tyrants' bullshit excuses used to justify taking our freedoms while we cheer them on?

            It's a rare and strange enough occurrence that I don't see a problem with that.

            And that's sad.

        • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Americano (920576) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @11:34AM (#39986207)

          no evidence of a crime having been committed.

          Well, since all they need to stop you and investigate is *reasonable suspicion,* I'd say that this stop was entirely within the bounds of good sense and reason.

          If the radioactive dye in his body was enough that they recommend he "stay away from infants" for 24 hours, and give him a note explaining that he has had a test where he was injected with radioactive materials, I'd say he's probably emitting a bit more than "background" radiation.

          As such, there is a *reasonable* suspicion that something criminal is happening, because it is uncommon, and unhealthy, for people to walk around emitting ionizing radiation. It is *reasonable* for a police officer to say, "Wait, what? Why is this car emitting radiation?" Once he investigated the situation, it turns out that there was no cause for concern, and he sent the man on his way.

          This is exactly how it's supposed to work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shiftless (410350)

        Are you fucking kidding me bro? "Regular police works"? I can only conclude from your odd grammar that you must be a native of another country than the U.S. who fundamentally cannot understand the freedoms we hold dear in this country.

        God help us all if you are an actual citizen of this formerly-great country.

        When the fuck did it ever become normal and accepted in America to pull people over for anything less than an actual traffic or equipment violation ??

        This is TYRANNY.... plain and simple....and you hav

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          When the fuck did it ever become normal and accepted in America to pull people over for anything less than an actual traffic or equipment violation ??

          THIS. Flamebait? Fuck THAT. When did it become okay for the cops to pull you over just to find out what you're doing? It's not illegal to travel with radioactives, and for noncommercial purposes and transporting small amounts you don't need a placard. Frankly, I'm not too happy to see the cops pull someone over with one brakelight out, either. It costs money a

    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dlgeek (1065796) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:19AM (#39984557)
      Without knowing exactly what they did, it's reasonable to assume they searched his car. Generally, this requires a warrant unless it's incident to an arrest, and even then, there are limits.

      There's not much legal precentdent either way as to whether or not slight radioactivity consitutes probable cause, but it's a very worrying slippery slope if it does. Cop wants to harras you? All he has to do is put a few drops of some nuclear medicine on your bumper (or worse, on your person) and you'll be stopped and searched thoroughly, just because he thinks you're guilty. Hell, he can just claim you registered, search your car illegally and haul you in for whatever he finds.

      TL;DR: It's a slippery slope for due process.
      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Luckyo (1726890) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:56AM (#39984731)

        Much easier to claim he smells dope. Requires no action and if he find nothing, well, maybe the smell came from elsewhere or he was just mistaken.

        In this case, they were likely being worried about a dirty bomb.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          He can't pretend to smell dope until after he pulls you over. So he needs two BS excuses to search your car. With the radioactivity excuse he can claim one BS reason to do both. Clearly more efficient.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        just because he thinks you're guilty

        If he's pseudo-framing you, your perceived guilt is irrelevant. He probably thinks you're carrying cash, or he doesn't like you.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        All he has to do is put a few drops of some nuclear medicine on your bumper (or worse, on your person) and you'll be stopped and searched thoroughly, just because he thinks you're guilty.

        He doesn't have to. If the stop were actually challenged, all he has to day is that his detector showed radioactivity at that time or more likely, "I don't remember the incident your Honor." Now, all you have to do is prove he's lying. Good luck with that - even if you do.

        Black people are pulled over for DWB all the time and how many times do you see court cases because of that?

        The only times stops are questioned are when the cops actually find something illegal.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:20AM (#39984563)

      The legal question of probable cause is what is significant in this story, not that they stopped him and let him go afterwards.

      Probable cause is a reasonable suspicion someone has committed a crime. That is the key point: there has to be suspicion of a crime taking place. Radioactivity in and of itself is not a crime since it is legal to possess radioactive materials or receive treatment from radioactive materials (with restrictions). Just detecting it does not imply a crime has taken place (except for neutron radiation or extremely high radiation in unmarked vehicles).

      It is important to ensure that the police use the probable cause standard, even in oddball cases like this. The definition of probable cause is a central item to maintaining the dignity of citizens from unnecessary searches. Poo-poo it if you want, but this is a significant issue even if you can't see it.

      • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

        by rhook (943951) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:49AM (#39984701)

        You need more than just reasonable suspicion to get probable cause for a search. They are not the same thing.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_suspicion [wikipedia.org]

        Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard of proof in United States law that is less than probable cause, the legal standard for arrests and warrants, but more than an "inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or 'hunch'";[1] it must be based on "specific and articulable facts", "taken together with rational inferences from those facts".[2] Police may briefly detain a person if they have reasonable suspicion that the person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity; such a detention is known as a Terry stop. If police additionally have reasonable suspicion that a person so detained may be armed, they may "frisk" the person for weapons, but not for contraband like drugs. Reasonable suspicion is evaluated using the "reasonable person" or "reasonable officer" standard,[3] in which said person in the same circumstances could reasonably believe a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity; it depends upon the totality of circumstances, and can result from a combination of particular facts, even if each is individually innocuous.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probable_cause [wikipedia.org]

        "Probable cause" is a stronger standard of evidence than a reasonable suspicion, but weaker than what is required to secure a criminal conviction. Even hearsay can supply probable cause if it is from a reliable source or supported by other evidence, according to the Aguilar–Spinelli test.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chrismcb (983081) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:20AM (#39984565) Homepage

      Seems like a non-story to me.

      A non story, really?
      Officer: I noticed you were doing the speed limit. So I thought I'd pull you over and make sure everything was ok. Officer: You aren't doing anything illegal, and have done nothing to make us suspect you. But we suspect you are a terrorist....
      And THAT is the story.

      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:34AM (#39984623)
        Oh, is that like driving while black?
      • I would mod you up if I could. Pulling someone over requires reasonable suspicion. There is usually nothing wrong with radiation. What needs to be seen is if courts allow radiation to be reason enough to pull someone over.

        • Re:So (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @07:35AM (#39984885) Homepage

          Nuclear radiation is bad and generally to be avoid. The interesting story here is state police cars with built in radioactivity detectors, obviously either checking for dirty radioactive weapons, nuclear weapons or newly arrived aliens hot off the star ships skulking about in their human skin suits ;).

          How far does this testing occur, is it only a single state dissolving into professional paranoia or is the whole of the US in on this detection of radiation sources.

          • Re:So (Score:5, Informative)

            by rgbatduke (1231380) <rgb@@@phy...duke...edu> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @09:00AM (#39985295) Homepage
            The interesting story here is state police cars with built in radioactivity detectors, obviously either checking for dirty radioactive weapons, nuclear weapons or newly arrived aliens hot off the star ships skulking about in their human skin suits ;).

            Precisely. I did not know that. Not only built with radioactivity detectors, but ones that are on all the time and are damn sensitive if they are picking up the excess flux from a human inside a car from a tracer treatment administered presumably some nontrivial amount of time before from a distance of what -- 7 meters? 10? 20? -- while driving down the road. Tracers are often very short half-life elements -- that's why they use them -- lots or radioactivity but for a very short time. They tend to be produced in the hospital immediately before use and be mostly gone an hour or two later (but with an exponential tail). Clearly they nailed him right after he left the hospital, and he left the hospital rather quickly after the test, probably less than 45 minutes after the production of the tracer.

            Are they sensitive enough to pick up a nuclear bomb being transported? Not if it is made with bomb-grade Uranium, which is also the easiest thing to make a bomb out of, but which isn't radioactive, although you might pick up the trigger. Plutonium 239 IS radioactive, producing a 5 MeV or so alpha at a rate sufficient to keep Plutonium warm to the touch, but alpha particles are relatively easy to block. It also typically contains Pu 240, which spontaneously fissions and produces a surplus flux of a few ~10 million neutrons per second from a typical core. Neutrons are more difficult to stop, but the intensity diminishes like 1/(4\pi r^2) so that the intensity at 10 meters is ~10^7/1250 or around 10^4 per meter squared per second. A detector as large as 1cm x 10 cm would then pick up 10 surplus neutrons per second at 10 meters, assuming there was zero attenuation in between and a perfect detector, neither of which is true. MAYBE this would give them signal to noise of a decibel or two, but given detector efficiency probably not until you were much closer. Up close it would be better, of course. Presumably their detectors have some sort of built in discriminator looking for sustained signal to noise above some cut-off.

            What the patient was probably emitting is gamma. Gamma radiation has a long range and isn't easily blocked.

            rgb
    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Did they shoot him, claim it was self-defense, and ship his remains to Gitmo?

      No; when they do that, it's a different kind of story [guardian.co.uk]. :-(

    • In a weird way its actually kinda cool. Shades of Back to the Future.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      >Seems like a non-story to me.

      You are right, this is not a story about shooting, self-defense and Gitmo-sending.

      This is a story about police stopping someone who did not do anything wrong, out of suspicion.

      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by History's Coming To (1059484) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @08:53AM (#39985251) Journal
        And the guy in question not having any problem with it! "Apatow was more curious than annoyed by the incident."

        So the conversation probably went:
        "Good afternoon sir, I've stopped you because your car seems to be radioactive"
        "Yes, I've just had a medical procedure involving a radioactive isotope, here's a letter from the doctor."
        "Thank you sir, sorry for the inconvenience."
        "That's quite alright, those detectors are very sensitive aren't they?"
        "Yes sir, have a nice day."

        So in other words, "policeman does the job he is paid to do and nobody cares except people responding in an alarmist manner on some website or other".

        You know, on Slashdot they would have covered this from an entirely different angle, looking at the technology required to pick up relatively low radiation levels from cars. Oh....hang on...
        • by mapkinase (958129)

          >not having any problem with it

          I think you are getting to the point I am making.

          It's not about police should be allowed this and that. It's about our attitude.

          Before government started to do that, we became complacent.

          It's about what's in your head, not about random unjustified stops.

          • Re:So (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Kijori (897770) <ward.jakeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @01:32PM (#39987009)

            Can you spell out the point that you're making?

            It sounds at the moment like you're worried about this being a "slippery slope" to something else. But a slippery slope to what? This seems to be exactly how we would want the police to behave:
            -The policeman had solid information that suggested that something was wrong (either a crime or a person in danger from radioactivity).
            -He investigated that in the least invasive way possible - he asked the person involved, who explained it.

            That sounds like good policework - investigating things that suggest that something's wrong and reacting in a measured and reasonable manner. I would definitely want a policeman to stop me if I was driving along in a radioactive vehicle - I don't want radiation poisoning - just like I would want an officer on foot to come over and speak to me if they saw blood on my shirt and thought I had either been injured or attacked someone. The only unreasonable overreaction I see is dozens of slashdot posters trying to turn it into an excuse to rant about another assault on their civil liberties.

    • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phreakiture (547094) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @08:05AM (#39985001) Homepage

      Given that /. is mostly populated by nerds, we've actually missed the part of the story that is interesting.

      The guy at the centre of the story said he was more curious than annoyed. I agree. I'm curious. I'd like to know more about these radiation monitors, and, for that matter, I'd like to get one for myself.

      • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gpmanrpi (548447) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @10:14AM (#39985711)
        Firstly, IAAL. While I agree this particular incident is not a big deal. Generally, in Constitutional criminal procedure cases this doesn't matter. Some of the best legal decisions have come from cases where the guy was guilty as sin. In fact, the majority of the decisions have, as normal citizenry have little recourse or time to deal with the fact that our rights have been violated. So, the problem is exactly that most people will not stand up to state interference into their daily lives.The collective we that is government will go to great lengths to keep ourselves safe, at the expense of ultimately endangering our safety in the long term. The slippery slope argument, which is proved likely by history, is that one can easily give the collective majority too much control over your individual liberty. Then everyone suffers as a police state emerges from relatively benign safety measures. Reasonable Suspicion has been watered down to basically mean an educated hunch, or a hunch++. You can have Reasonable Suspicion of a crime as a police officer based on your experience, the neighborhood (DWB), the smell of alcohol (which as we nerds all know is actually oder-less), etc. Reasonable Suspicion is a LOW hurdle. I too am curious about these monitors. What is their reliability? What is the standard that would make it reasonable for an officer to infer that a crime may be in progress? What is the normal radioactive signature of a motor vehicle? Does brand matter? What if it were sufficiently armored, or lead plated?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am not from USA, but from ex USSR. It's not that we have radioactive waste everywhere lying around,
    but there could possibly be some "over the level bolt" lost somewhere in some abandoned base.
    So if that bolt happens to end in your car, I would be happy if police stopped me, and checked
    why my car was radioactive.

    More to the point - if somebody transports nuke, they better get stopped.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by infurnus (1897136)

      I am not from USA, but from ex USSR. It's not that we have radioactive waste everywhere lying around, but there could possibly be some "over the level bolt" lost somewhere in some abandoned base. So if that bolt happens to end in your car, I would be happy if police stopped me, and checked why my car was radioactive.

      More to the point - if somebody transports nuke, they better get stopped.

      I didn't know S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was based on real life. The more you know .-*

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, because if we don't stop and search everyone, the terrorists will win.

      This is a bullshit argument. People are killed over terrorism, but the level is not significant enough to justify clamping down and restricting the civil liberties of everyone. A police state is not an adequate response to terrorism.

      Intelligence services, smart police forces, not supporting oppressive governments, and letting your people continue to be free and productive are more effective deterrents to terrorism than a checkpoint a

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:36AM (#39984643)

      If your nuke radiates as much as your body after a medical exam, then you either got ripped off by the arms dealer or should probably get a different doctor.

      • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @08:59AM (#39985289) Journal
        A low level dirty bomb made from medical grade material would be very effective indeed. All you have to do is spread some radioactive material in a very busy public spot (sports stadium, political building etc) and then call it in. The resulting media and political panic will cause far more "terror" than the situation warrants, and the threat of lawyers in the future will make the cleanup ridiculously protracted and expensive. "Terrorists" don't create the terror these days, politicians and the media do. If the actual threat was in any way related to the fuss made then we'd make a much bigger deal over road safety and a cure for cancer.
        • Other than the 'terror' aspect of it, most medical grade material would make a bad dirty bomb because of the short half life. You could simply ignore the problem and it would go away. To be truly effective, cleanup should be difficult and expensive, ala Fukashima. Further, most medical isotopes are made in small quantities so getting enough to be able to 'do something' would not be trivial.

          Of course, it's not quite so simple, radioactive iodine or cesium would make a particularly nasty dirty bomb because

  • Hahahaha (Score:5, Funny)

    by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:34AM (#39984347)

    What is hilarious and immensely sad is that the poster thinks that police stopping radioactive people is the where the current battle lines over privacy and the first amendment rights are in the US.

    Dude...have you been in a coma or something???

  • by Hays (409837) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:36AM (#39984355)

    The headline makes it sound like the police searched his car, but the article doesn't say that.

    Assuming there was no search and the officer simply asked him why the car was radioactive and was satisfied with the explanation, this sounds like an example of the system working.

    I'm actually very impressed that these detectors are widely deployed and sensitive enough to pick this up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mbstone (457308)

      Given that it is not illegal to own or purchase or transport radioactive materials (within limits for hobbyist use), should the police be allowed to stop and search vehicles which show a slight level of radioactivity?

      Seems to me that if you transport radioactive materials on a highway you might be legally required to display one of those diamond-shaped Hazmat placards, and any reasonable officer could lawfully stop and question the driver about a possible violation.

    • "I'm actually very impressed that these detectors are widely deployed and sensitive enough to pick this up."

      I'm actually very disturbed that the detectors are configured to alert officers to levels of radiation that are far too low to be a threat to anybody.

      The detectors should either ignore radiation below a dangerous threshold, or display a number that allows the officer to adjust for distance (e.g. a reading of X should be ignored for a car 15 feet away, but X could signify something dangerous in a dumps

  • by Kergan (780543) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:39AM (#39984371)

    Should the police be allowed to stop and search vehicles which show a slight level of radioactivity?

    Seriously? What kind of donkey are you?

    You're living in a Police State that monitors its citizens and foreigners to an extent that developing countries can only dream of, molests travelers before they can board a plane, hosts a fourth of the world's inmates, locks foreigners for a decade without trial on tropical islands, and recently murdered one of its own citizen without trial... And you're fucking worried about your car getting searched because it's slightly radioactive? How about wondering what kind of turd bought the cop a radioactive detector?

  • by damicatz (711271) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:39AM (#39984373)

    So, basically, some defense contractor bribed a few key state officials and got them to convince everyone that taxpayer money should be used to outfit the police cars with (very expensive and profitable) radiation scanners.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Unlikely that they bribed the state officials; it's much more likely that defense contractors (technical support types) wrote in the risk and detector based defense into DHS material, that DHS pushed this, that the state guys saw that as a way to get a grant to "do something" and applied and got the grant.

      There's no misconception that we can catch every dirty bomb by scanning highways and ports. The very effective theory is that if we make hte odds of failure significant, then the boogieman won't try that a

  • All they will do is classify it is under grounds of national security as it could be possible stopping something could be a bomb or something.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This guy must have been seriously active to be detected from several meters and through the shielding provided by his car. If it was that bad what risk was there to his family and colleagues? If I was a cop and detected radiation I would think twice about making an approach, get the guys in the rad suits.

    • by ewanm89 (1052822)
      Not if it was a gamma emitter in his blood stream, or quite a powerful beta emitter, yes an Alpha emitter would have a hard time penetrating the bodywork, though it only takes a few particles making it through to be noticeable increase on a Geiger counter if it is sensitive enough. As for detecting radiation, you do know the Earth itself provides a constant level of low level radiation that varies over the earth's surface (volcanic and ex-volcanic zones tend to be more active, but it can be detecting everyw
    • by rhook (943951)

      Do you realize that everything is radioactive enough to be detected?

  • The amount of radioactive material used for medical purposes is very small, and noone could do much harm with it. They should only check cars that have radiation indicating large amounts of the stuff.

    • AIUI the problem is you can't tell the difference externally between a weak but unshielded source and between a strong source in a thick lead box.

      So if you want to find the people who are moving the strong sources around you have to use a sensitive detector and then investigate to find out exactly what is being carried.

  • Any kid could make a nuclear device that would blow us all to hell. This police officer was obviously just doing his job to protect us.

  • by jonadab (583620) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:42AM (#39984677) Homepage Journal
    > Given that it is not illegal to own or purchase or transport
    > radioactive materials (within limits for hobbyist use),

    Yes, but if they're sufficiently radioactive to be detected from across the street, and you didn't bother to put them in a shielded container for transport, I don't think getting pulled over and asked a couple of questions is necessarily entirely out of line. It is worth noting that the radiation was leaving the vehicle and having an impact on the external surroundings, which is how the police knew about it in the first place. Now, in the case of the dude who'd just had a medical scan with radioactive dye, that was fundamentally unavoidable (unless he wanted to stay at the hospital until it wore off, which could be rather expensive). Nonetheless, the police didn't stop him out of randomness, or because they were busybodies, or because they had something against him personally, etc. They became interested in him because of radiation that was emanating from his vehicle. That's not (or at least not entirely) a private effect. It's a public effect.

    If you're transporting radioactive materials for hobbyist use, and you want them to be private (so that they will not get police attention without a warrant, for example), you could always just keep them in a shielded container, so that the radiation remains private. Frankly, that's probably a good idea even at home (whenever you're not actively working with your hobby). Think of it in the same way as keeping your dog on a leash.
    • by mapkinase (958129)

      >sufficiently radioactive to be detected from across the street

      Detectability of action does not equal illegality of action. Being "detectable" should not be a reason for law enforcement to violate your right of moving freely.

      Was the level of radioactivity above the level of radioactivity permitted by law in uncontrolled environment (for example, public space)?

    • by sjames (1099)

      If the radiation is sufficiently mild that a doctor is willing to inject it into your body to improve the quality of a medical scan, then it is no danger to anyone across the street. It was LITERALLY safe enough to eat.

  • by mapkinase (958129) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:51AM (#39984711) Homepage Journal

    Given that it is not illegal to own or purchase or transport radioactive materials (within limits for hobbyist use), should the police be allowed to stop and search vehicles which show a slight level of radioactivity?

    That is not the right question to ask. The right question to ask is should government be allowed to do ANYTHING trumping citizen's rights that has been granted in 1776 in the name of security or any other names.

    The question to ask is whether a country of free men, which US of A declares itself to be, "the most free country in the world", should continue a practice of "preventing" crime, from the one hand, and start fullfilling people's right to think and act within the limits of the law, no matter how close are they to those limits, and, from the other hand, should the aforementioned country start punishing people for crimes swiftly, without any delay, thus enforcing the responsibility of people for their action, which is the other obligatory immanent nondetachable side to the aforementioned rights.

    That is the question.

    As for the type of questions you have posed, they have been leading the country nowhere. Scratch that, they haven't been leading the country nowhere, they have been leading away from original rights of the people to lesser and lesser rights. They have been leading country away from its original state to 1984 state.

    It's time to reverse Martin Noemuller fable back and instead of warning others about "what do you do when they will come for you?" it is time to call people "let's stop them from coming after anyone". It's time for stopping calling for "stopping" the process where it is now, because, face it, the point is rather arbitrary, isn't it? It's time for starting to call for reversal of the process back to the origins of the US

    In every persistent ideology, that is the one that had existed for even only slightly longer than 236 years, there always have been restoration/revival movement and if this country wants to claim to have any ideology beside the animalistic ideology "compete and survive", it must prove itself by having this type of movement as well.

    Wait... There was a number of people that were doing that all the time, actually, scratch that, I know exactly, what that number is, it is nine at any given time of recent history. Correction: they were supposed to be doing that in our name, on our behalf, but they have been failing to do that miserably and silly us, we made a mistake of giving them a total carte blanche to go with that with impunity by removing any accountability of their actions.

    This is all theoretical and rhetorical, because, face it, there is no ideology left in US except the one I characterized.

    So stop asking your silly questions like:

    should the police be allowed to stop and search vehicles which show a slight level of radioactivity?

    and move on. It does not matter if you actually have this local small most likely Pyrrhic victory in this particular case. Without the principle of following the principles, without people who are ready to sacrifice their 401k, their MTV, their suburban houses, and unltimately, and very essentially, their lives for those principles, you will be just going from question to question.

    Do you know why people had more rights in the most despotic countries of the past? Of course, not because the despots respected their rights in any way.

    People of the past had those rights because government could not technically stomp on them, they did not have the means, the force, the technology. Now the government respect those rights only superficially more than their despotic brethren of the past, in reality it systematically and slowly takes away all rights of people except the right for panem et circenses. Oh, that "right" to circenses is fulfilled on full blown scale. There should be some kind of Moore law for the number of "channels of shit".

    Now the

    • your constitution has been suspended ever since fdr took emergency powers on taking office back in 1933. google it...
  • by NReitzel (77941) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:59AM (#39984741) Homepage

    As a cardiac patient who has had isotope stress tests, and as a working chemist, let me state for the record that there is nothing "slight" about the level of radioactivity of a patient after one of these tests. Low level rad wastes, radioactive ores, uranium glass, all are slight levels of radioactivity, and measured as millionths of a Curie. The isotope used for stress tests is injected at 30,000 times higher levels, and the radiation emitted, gamma rays, penetrates through things like clothes, bone, muscle, and car doors.

    The isotope used has a very short half-life so that two days after a test, there is very little radioactivity left, Right after a test a patient has a level of radioactivity that would scare the gloves off a rad-safety worker. If you point a Geiger counter at one of us, it doesn't click, it -whines-.

    They pulled over a vehicle that was hot, and in other circumstances would represent a substantial safety hazard. More power to them.

  • My Father (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SoVi3t (633947) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @07:44AM (#39984909)
    My father recently had major surgery, and when he went to the USA, he was pulled over by police due to being radioactive, and had the cops go over the entire car. I assumed this shit was normal.
  • Hahaha... this made me laugh.
    My father-in-law had undergone a medical treatment for colon cancer where they implanted a dozen small pellets of radioactive material around his tumor.

    Well he & his wife drove to Canada on a trip and crossing the border INTO Canada was no problem.

    However, upon trying to re-enter the U.S. at the Border some radioactive detection system went off, an automatic barrier went up in front of their car and soon a dozen armed police were surrounding their car.

    Needless to say a 78 yr old man and his wife were a bit shaken by the experience and my father-in-law was questioned for an hour and their car searched/scanned before they were permitted to continue.

    I am grateful that our Border can detect this kind of stuff down to the microscopic levels because a terrorist would certainly have more on them than what was in my relative's butt...

    Good thing my father-in-law is a totally funny guy and his retelling of the incident had me in stitches for hours.
  • by swbirding (2564493) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @09:04AM (#39985315)
    Here in New Mexico this is a way of life. The military checkpoints that the Border Patrol has set up everywhere routinely check for such things as radioactivity. When a chemical stress test is administered in cardiac units in Las Cruces, for instance, the patient is given a document describing the isotope used, the procedure administered, and contact information. The patient is then briefed on what to expect at the military check points. Having gone through such a test I can affirm that the monitoring system works. Alarms go off when you approaching the questioning zone - you are ordered to drive your vehicle to a segregated area - Border Patrol Agents with geiger counters surround your vehicle - if you are lucky, some idiot will babble spanish as you incessantly (as if spanish speaking and radioactivity had something to do with each other) and eventually they will clear you to return to your home. All of this so the people of Kansas and Oklahoma can feel safe - I don't care if the cowards feel safe or not.
  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @09:26AM (#39985439)

    Just exactly how do you expect the police to catch the terrorist with a nuke if not deploying such devices?

    If this is your level of offense that you take, how are you going to cope with a post-nuclear-bomb-in-NYC security regime that will inevitably be realized?

    This is very basic stuff here. I mean a just slightly lateral translation of "A Stitch In Time Saves Nine"

    Sometimes I despair of my fellow liberals. Someone they got sold on this anti-government crack. Basically they think because Hoover and Stalin and World Leader In History X created and used the states security apparatus to attack their own people , then it's inevitable any country will follow suit given enough time and power.I guess that's the only lesson a lot of people take away from their history class.There is a danger lurking in too much unchecked power, and we need judicial review and the best efforts of a free press, we really do but wait....but what if they're corrupt too!!

    Which brings me to my counter-narrative to the Police State Is Coming meme. The reason you're free as in freedom is mainly because other members of society actually DO value freedom as much as you do.

    Judges, cops, the people in the the press and national security apparatus actually view the world in the same way you do. They LIKE their country and government (sorry Ron Paul!) and LIKE their freedoms and civil liberties and want to continue to have them fro everyone. They're patriots in that way. They actively DON'T want a government that sends political enemies to work gulags and all the other stuff that characterizes a repressive of society. The people in our nation who DON'T feel this way really stand out as a lunatic fringe.

    I am not saying to just trust your government. I am saying that the reason you can walk down the street isn't because there are laws against murder but mostly because people have internalized the "don't murder" value and don't want to murder each other, and that internalization is what REALLY keeps you safe on a day to day basis and not the laws. The law make it advantageous to internalize it and disadvantageous to fail to do so.

    The real thing to worry about is the lunatic right wing historical and social revisionist histories that get people to believes like "This country was founded as a Christian nation" and "Barak Obama is a Islamic communist". As crazy as that shit sounds, it actually does have the potential to create individuals who DON'T share your values- at all. Get enough of those types running around and no law is going to keep you safe .

    That's why what you say online matters. It's today's public town hall. A good argument influences people to think and see things differently. That process, of talking to each other and changing minds is the ultimate mechanism through which civilization and freedom and democracy are passed.

    • Re:Oh COME ON (Score:5, Interesting)

      by russotto (537200) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @10:21AM (#39985769) Journal

      Just exactly how do you expect the police to catch the terrorist with a nuke if not deploying such devices?

      I don't. I expect once the terrorist has a nuke, he's going to be able to set it off. If you catch him short of his target, you just get a nuclear detonation in a less populated place. If you catch him in New York Harbor, you're already totally fucked.

      Basically they think because Hoover and Stalin and World Leader In History X created and used the states security apparatus to attack their own people , then it's inevitable any country will follow suit given enough time and power.

      And it is. As Lord Acton (yes, a Liberal) pointed out, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And you need merely look at what government does with power when it gets it to see that any power will be abused. Special wiretapping laws supposed to be used only for terrorism get used for totally unrelated investigations 90% of the time. The NSA teams up with AT&T and other phone companies to monitor everything. The TSA... just about anything the TSA does. The government has the power to do border checkpoints... so they set them up dozens of miles from the border and claim they get 100 miles of rights-free zones. Reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on speech become "free speech zones" surrounded by chain-link fences. The list goes on...

      Which brings me to my counter-narrative to the Police State Is Coming meme. The reason you're free as in freedom is mainly because other members of society actually DO value freedom as much as you do.

      The police state is HERE. Most people don't value freedom at all, happily (or at worst grouchily) submit to any demand the state has, and think something is wrong with YOU if you object.

  • by wzinc (612701) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @11:51AM (#39986303)
    Driving While Radioactive. I'm so sick of prejudice.

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