Vancouver police get sonic crowd control device
Military design put to civilian use
The device - which is a compact version of its predecessor, the Long Range Acoustic Device - can be mounted on top of a vehicle. It is capable of emitting a blast of directional sound measuring an estimated 146 decibels at one metre away and an estimated 99 decibels at 500 metres.
Sound above the range of 120 to 140 decibels is considered painful and damaging to human hearing.
The devices were originally designed for the American military and was first used publicly in North America in September as police in Pittsburgh tried to control anti-G20 demonstrators.
Tried to control G-20 protestors, nice spin. Used to torture G-20 protestors is more accurate. To stop them from doing what they are lawfully entitled to do.
But police in Vancouver have no plans to use the device as a sonic weapon, said Houghton.
"It was looked at solely for its effectiveness at delivering a message to a large number of people," said Houghton.
So they say? But this is interesting...
Lack of regulations raises concerns
SFU criminologist David MacAlister, whose research focuses on police powers and civil liberties, said the public should be concerned about the police bringing in new tactics just months before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Protesters have threatened to hold large public demonstrations and possibly attempt to disrupt the Games.
"We want to be concerned whenever we're putting a new weapon in the hands of the police and they're basically telling us 'Trust us, we're not going to use it,'" said MacAlister.
"I'm always concerned when the police have a device like this that can be deployed and have that incidental effect on people who aren't necessarily the target of its use," he said.
Protocols and policies must be put in place to govern how the MRAD will be used during the Olympics, MacAlister maintains.
"The very fact they have the device and it has a weapon capability to it, there's always a risk its going to be used and I think we have to ask some serious questions whether this is the kind of device we want in the hands of the police," said MacAlister.