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Guide for the Selection of Commercial Explosives Detection Systems for Law Enforcement Applications



Alim A. Fatah, Kathleen M. Higgins


This document includes a variety of information that is intended to be useful to the law enforcement community in the selection of explosives detection techniques and equipment for different applications. It includes a thorough market survey of all trace and x-ray based commercial detection systems known to the authors as of October 1998, including company contact information along with data on each system's cost, size, and uses. Information is also included on some additional novel detection technologies, and on such standard techniques as canine and physical search. Brief technical discussions are presented that consider the principles of operation of the various technologies. These may be ignored by readers who find them too technical, while those wanting additional technical information can obtain it from the extensive list of references that is included as an appendix. Other sections of the document present matrices listing the most highly recommended detection techniques for a variety of scenarios, a list of desirable characteristics for explosives detection equipment for law envorcement work with charts rating commercial systems against these criteria, and a standard test protocol for the evaluation of trace detection equipment. In addition to a reference list, the appendices include a section providing basic information about different types of explosives and explosions. Any law enforcement personnel having comments or questions are encouraged to contact the authors at Sandia National Laboratories.
NIJ Report 100-99


applications, commercial, detectors, explosives, law enforcement, particle, portable, survey, vapor


Fatah, A. and Higgins, K. (1999), Guide for the Selection of Commercial Explosives Detection Systems for Law Enforcement Applications, NIJ Report 100-99 (Accessed March 4, 2024)
Created September 1, 1999, Updated February 19, 2017