Protests boost sales and fears of sonic blaster

December 13, 2011 • National News

In this photo taken Sept. 14, 2011, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bevington, requirements officer with the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, demonstrates one of the military’s latest voice projection system and instant translation technologies, that can project a human voice a mile away and instantly translate from English to another language, at the Marine Base in Quantico Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

QUANTICO, Va. (AP) — Rather than batons or rubber bullets, some police departments have started using an intense beam of sound to manage protesters, but the annoying tone has drawn criticism from some who say it can cause permanent damage.

More U.S. police and emergency-response agencies are using the so-called Long-Range Acoustic Devices instead of megaphones or conventional loudspeakers for crowd control. The leading manufacturer, LRAD Corp. of San Diego, said the product was developed as a nonlethal option for military use.

Some people who have been on the receiving end call the devices “sound cannons.” A woman is suing the city of Pittsburgh claiming the piercing tone from a police blaster during the 2009 G-20 summit permanently damaged her hearing. There were reports that New York City police used the punishing tone on protesters, though the department said it used the device only to broadcast messages.

LRAD (pronounced L-rad) said its products offer police something louder than a megaphone and more benign than rubber bullets and tear gas for managing Login to read more

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