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Imagine that you’re a police officer in the midst of a riot. While you may be able to apprehend the offenders closest to you, you can see plenty of other looters and vandals who are out of arm’s reach. Well, that’s where SelectaDNA’s High Velocity DNA Tagging System comes in handy. At the heart of the system is a gun that shoots non-lethal pellets, which contain uniquely-coded synthetic DNA.

These pellets leave traces of DNA on the target, traces that can be detected by the authorities even weeks after the incident, thus helping police identify offenders.

Developed by British scientists, it has a range of between 30 and 40 metres, and is marketed as a pistol or rifle, but its makers insist it is not deadly or harmful to the health of the target.

Andrew Knight, director of the makers, explained that “when it comes into contact with the target, the uniquely-coded SelectaDNA solution leaves a trace of synthetic DNA, which would allow authorities to confirm or rule out the involvement in a particular incident leading to the arrest and prosecution of a person.”

In a different vein, but still within the framework of the law enforcement agencies, police in New York are looking to introduce new technology that can detect concealed weapons. Quoted in the New York Daily News, NYPD’s Raymond Kelly said the department will soon develop scanners that emit non-harmful terahertz radiation, or T-rays. If something prevents the ‘flow’ of radiation (such as a weapon), the scanners will detect it from distance.

The idea is to install such scanners in police cars or locations identified as dangerous and watch passers-by, so that officers are alerted when someone is carrying something they deem ‘suspicious’.

The scanner was developed in collaboration with London’s Metropolitan Police, and is still in the testing phase. However, there have already been reactions from organisations speaking up for the rights of the citizen concerned about whether it is legal to scan members of the public without their knowledge.

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