VPD purchases LRAD for use in Olympics
The Vancouver Police Department has purchased an LRAD, or a Long Range Acoustic Device, for use during the 2010 Olympics. The LRAD is a non-lethal weapon that emits painfully loud sound in a focused beam. The device came under scrutiny after it was used on protesters at the recent G20 meetings in Pittsburgh.
Despite its capabilities as a crowd control weapon, the VPD claims the new device will only be used to make announcements to the public:
Const. Lindsay Houghton said the device was first tested this summer as a public address system during the Celebration of Light fireworks events in Vancouver.
Houghton said police don’t plan to use the device for anything more than communication.
“The primary function we’re using the device for is its ability to communicate with very large groups with respect to crowd control, evacuations, tactical situations where we may need the loudspeaker portion of it,” he said.
The BCCLA’s President, Rob Holmes, had concerns about the acquisition. “This crowd control weapon was obtained without any public discussion and without any defined policy for its safe and proper use.” Safety will be a major concern should the LRAD be deployed as a weapon. At its maximum volume, the LRAD can cause permanent hearing damage if individuals remain in its focus for an extended period. It emits sounds of up to 151 dB, well past the threshold of pain (120 dB) and just below a level that can cause instantaneous hearing loss (160dB).
If the VPD simply wanted a loudspeaker, there is military-grade hardware available for a fraction of the cost. As Bob Mackin suggested on Twitter, you may want to invest in some earplugs if you’ll be in Vancouver come February.