Australian police authorities buying up sound weapons

Australian police authorities buying up sound weapons, by Jeremy Story Carter.

They can break up protests with loud, piercing sound, but Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) can also cause permanent hearing damage. The controversial LRAD has been used to disperse crowds in protest situations in the US.

What to expect:

“We had seen these machines there [that] looked like an armoured vehicle with a satellite dish on top,” says [Karen Piper, who was left with permanent hearing damage], who had been observing the protest from a distance.

“Then this machine emits this long piercing noise. It’s a very high frequency, it really hurts your ears. I started to not feel well immediately after that. I felt dizzy and nauseous and disoriented.”

The Law Report contacted all of Australia’s police forces and found more than half now own LRADs.

Some implications:

Yet [Melbourne University sound and law expert James Parker] says the nature of the technology and its ability to cause harm to bystanders means it should be the subject of much broader debate.

‘Police and military have been able to hurt people for a long time—they have batons, they have guns—[but] the LRAD is indiscriminate,’ he says.

Parker says LRADs have since been marketed ‘quite aggressively’ to military and police forces around the world.