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Court: NYPD Doesn't Have To Share Information On Secret X-Ray Vans

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A state appeals court has ruled the NYPD does not have to share much information about one of their top-secret counterterrorism programs with the public.

It has been reported that the NYPD has a fleet of unmarked vehicles that use X-ray technology to see through buildings and into vehicles, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman said.

The military-grade surveillance equipment uses radiation to capture images inside cars or buildings and has been used to detect roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

Last year, the National Civil Liberties Union filed a brief urging the appeals court to uphold a judge's ruling in January that the NYPD must disclose information on the program requested by an investigative journalist at ProPublica.

The department had denied a Freedom of Information Law request for records revealing the Z Backscatter Vans' usage and public health risks, as well as whether warrants were obtained and how long images captured by the vehicles were held.

"Our concerns were very clear. We don't want to disclose secretive technology that we use to prevent terrorists attacks," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Larry Byrne said.

Several institutions, including Bloomberg News and the New York Times have also filed similar briefs in support of releasing the records.

The appeals court has since reversed the lower court's decision -- only requiring the NYPD to release documents in relation to the program's potential health risks.

"And said there's a small category of documents if we have them that relate to the potential health impact that we have to disclose," Byrne said.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has previously said the vans are not used to scan people for weapons.

The vans cost between $729,000 to $825,000 each, the NYCLU said.

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