'Radioactive Man' Pulled Over by Conn. Police

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 15, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A "sensitive" law-enforcement device aimed at stopping terrorists led police to pull over a radioactive man who'd just undergone a medical procedure.

A Connecticut state trooper conducted the traffic stop after a passing car set off a radiation detector in the officer's cruiser, the Connecticut Post reports. But instead of finding hazardous materials, the officer found a perplexed off-duty firefighter.

"I asked the officer, 'What seems to be the problem?'" firefighter Mike Apatow told the Post. "He said, 'You've been flagged as a radioactive car.'"

Apatow, 42, had undergone what's a called a nuclear stress test -- a medical procedure that involves injecting a small amount of radioactive material into a patient's veins to help track blood flow, the Post reports.

But that small amount of radiation in the man's system was apparently enough to set off the state trooper's radiation detector. "They're very sensitive," a Connecticut state police spokesman told the Post.

As you probably know, police can only pull over a driver if an officer has reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a crime or traffic violation is being committed. Setting off a radiation detector -- now found in many Connecticut state police vehicles, as a homeland security measure -- can give an officer reason to stop and question a driver.

Along with triggering police radiation detectors, radioactive patients have also been known to set off alarms at airports, a cardiologist told the Post.

In such cases, a doctor's note can help explain the radioactive medical test. That's what happened in firefighter Mike Apatow's case, and the officer let him go.

"I had no idea the police even had devices like that," radioactive man Mike Apatow told the Post. "I imagined it being like a cartoon -- like I'm driving down the street and my car was glowing."

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