Meet the Police's New 'Sound Canons'

Controversial LRAD can cause 'extreme pain,' hearing loss
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2011 8:19 AM CST
Meet the Police's New 'Sound Canons'
An LRAD sonic device that allegedly was used on protesters in Oregon last week.   (JungleSheep0831)

Last week's police busts on Occupy camps around the United States saw one of the highest-profile deployments yet of high-tech crowd control: sound cannons, reports the Week. Designed to keep birds out of the way of planes at airports, the "long range acoustic device," or LRAD for short, blasts high-frequency sound waves over a 300-meter range, causing intense pain that can incapacitate people.

Military-grade versions on the LRAD can fire off sound waves north of 160 decibels, well above the point that can cause hearing loss; the model typically used by police has a maximum of just 149 decibels and is typically used around 110 decibels—akin to the noise at a rock concert. Although several media outlets have reported that police in New York and Oakland used the LRADs on protesters last week, the NYPD denies having used its LRAD as a sound cannon—instead, it insists it only used its LRAD as a "megaphone," to broadcast instructions to protesters. (More nonlethal weapons stories.)

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