42-year-old Mike Apatow driving to an appointment for work in Washington Depot when a state police car appeared suddenly and signalled for him to pull over.
Apatow was entering Interstate 84 in Newtown when the cruiser appeared, and he had no idea what he’d done to merit police attention.
It turns out he didn’t do anything.
But earlier that day, Apatow, who’d experienced a recent spike in his blood pressure, had a nuclear stress test at Cardiology Associates of Fairfield County in Trumbull.
In the test, a small amount of a radioactive material is injected into the veins and used to help track blood flow to the heart. Though the amount of radioactive material used in the test is relatively low – equal to a few X-rays or a diagnostic CT scan – it was enough to set off a radioactivity detector in the state police car.
The detectors are used to help identify potential terror threats.
“I asked the officer `What seems to be the problem?’ ” Apatow said. “He said `You’ve been flagged as a radioactive car.’”
Apatow’s doctor had given him a document attesting that he’d had a medical procedure involving a small amount of radioactive material that he handed to the officer.
A Stratford firefighter, Apatow was more curious than annoyed by the incident.
“I had no idea the police even had devices like that,” he said. “I imagined it being like a cartoon – like I’m driving down the street and my car was glowing.”
State Police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance confirmed that many of the state police cars have the radioactivity detectors.
“It’s part of our homeland security operations here,” Vance said. “It’s just another layer of public safety that we have in this state.”