Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can you hear them now? Vancouver police purchase sonic crowd control device

Like most of us in this lead up to Christmas, the Vancouver Police Department has done some thumbing from the new toys catalogue, but unlike us, they didn't wait for Christmas to get that one shiny new thing that was on their minds.

News reports out of Vancouver have their police department purchasing an item called the LRAD, an acronym for Long Range Acoustic Device. In fact, the device was given a test drive of sorts, when it was put into use in a communications mode during this past summer's festival of Light, where it was used as a high tech bullhorn.

The machinery which is manufactured by American Technology Corporation, resembles a satellite dish on a tripod, can be used to project sound as a weapon, emitting levels that cross the human threshold of pain and are potentially damaging to hearing, and its that use that has raised some interest in Vancouver.
The device, which weighs about 40 kilograms, can be mounted on top of a vehicle. It is reported to be capable of emitting a blast of directional sound measuring an estimated 150 decibels at one metre away and an estimated 90 decibels at 300 metres. It was most recently highlighted by its use by the Pittsburgh Police Department at the G-20 summit earlier this fall.

The device is also designed as a communications device that's clearly audible up to a kilometre away.

It's apparently the latter category that the Vancouver Police are highlighting as they make plans to put it into operation, advising that they don't plan to use the device as a sonic weapon and have only plans to make us of it for communication.

The timing of the purchase has raised a few eyebrows, with the Olympic Games on the horizon now and the threat of public demonstrations on the minds of Vancouver officials, some are concerned about the potential uses of the new item.
With that in mind, there are calls that the Vancouver Police develop protocols for the deployment of the latest addition to their arsenal.

CBC News-- Sonic crowd control device for Vancouver police
Canadian Press-- Vancouver police's new weapon could pose risk: civil liberties group

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