A density meter may seem like a simple instrument, but it is used in a variety of applications, depending on what it is designed for. It can be used in science, medicine, chemistry, or law enforcement.
A density meter in law enforcement is a tool used to detect and locate hidden contraband. Campbell/Harris Security Equipment Company (CSECO) developed and designed as the first density meter exactly for this purpose – known as the Buster, or more accurately, Buster K910 Density Meter.
So, how does the Buster work exactly?
The Buster uses a low-intensity gamma radiation emitter and scintillation detector to quickly scan vehicles or residences for hidden contraband. The Buster is designed with such technology to allow an inspector to determine whether a suspect vehicle tests positive for hidden contraband in less than five minutes or a room of an average size in less than ten minutes.
How does the Buster complete readings quickly but accurately? And how is it able to detect – and confirm – that an object has, indeed, contraband hidden in it?
The Buster emits gamma rays when the trigger is pushed. The Buster’s readings are produced when the gamma rays bounce off of an object and are picked up by the scintillation detector. Objects that are denser will produce higher readings because more gamma rays will reflect off such objects and back to the detector. When more gamma rays are detected, it causes readings to go higher. Ideally, officers are looking for readings on objects that are significantly higher than a normal reading would be on a non-compromised object, close to double the normal reading.
For instance, take a spare tire, which is typically a hollow object. The Buster is used to scan over the tire. If the tire is not hollow, the Buster picks up more gamma rays as it scans the tire than it would have on a normal hollow tire, resulting in higher readings. If the spare tire has a significantly higher reading than normal (close to 2x or more), there is a strong chance some sort of contraband is present.
The Buster’s gamma rays can penetrate into the object being scanned up to six inches deep. This is great for finding hidden compartments in vehicles.
The Buster density meter can be used to scan objects and spaces for hidden contraband, such as: spare tires, compartments, dashboards, car seats, car doors, and even the underside of a car. It can also be used to scan other items and locations such as furniture, walls, trucks, container vans, and many others.
Unlike detecting tools that use other technology such as millimeter wave, radio wave, ultra-violet or microwave, the Buster can identify concealed items through various materials such as wood, metal, or reinforced plastic. The great thing about the Buster is that it can scan these objects without causing damage to them. You don’t have to tear the object down or destroy it.
The Buster density meter and contraband detector features visual and audible readouts to alert users the presence of contraband. The Buster can quickly zero in on the specific location of hidden drugs, narcotics, cash, jewelry, weapons, and other smuggled items so that they can be seized before they reach to their intended destination.
In addition to detecting and locating hidden contraband, the Buster also has the RAD-Aware radiation detection feature. This feature allows first responders (inspectors) to establish safe boundaries in the event of a dirty-bomb detonation or other radioactive release.
The Buster-on-a-Stick telescoping pole can be used to attach the Buster and serve as its extension, allowing officers to scan hard-to-reach places (such as an underside of a truck). It is sold separately.
The Buster’s usefulness is increased even more due to its new safety features. The latest version, the Buster K910G, does not have lead components. Its radioactive source is now 25% smaller than any other density meter. It makes the Buster the safest density meter on the market, allowing it to be used even in hazardous areas.
These are some of the many ways that the Buster density meter can be used to detect hidden contraband. Trained interdiction officers and border patrol agents using the Buster have attained average confiscations of over $250,000 worth of contraband a year or more since the Buster became available in the mid-1980s.