Skip to comments.GOP Convention - Security Gadgets
Posted on 08/19/2004 9:45:46 AM PDT by NYer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Forget the megaphone. Police will have a much more high-tech option to make themselves heard over the din of Manhattan traffic, summer tourists and noisy protesters outside the upcoming Republican National Convention: the Long Range Acoustic Device.
The New York Police Department plans to use the portable, dish-shaped instrument developed for the military if it needs to broadcast warnings or instructions to a swelling crowd. It's part of an arsenal of devices and counterterrorism equipment that authorities were unveiling Thursday ahead of the convention Aug. 30-Sept. 2. The machines are being tested at an air field in a remote section of Brooklyn along with other devices like hand-held radiation detectors and mechanical barriers strong enough to stop a moving vehicle in its tracks.
The department recently bought two of the 45-pound acoustic machines for $35,000 apiece, and plans to mount them on armored vehicles posted outside Madison Square Garden. It would mark the first time the instrument _ which can beam sounds up to 150 decibels for distances up to 300 yards _ has been used by a civilian force. ``We believe we'd be able to use them in a number of scenarios,'' said Paul Browne, the NYPD's chief spokesman. Two possible uses cited by Browne: directing crowds to safety following a terrorist attack or other calamity, and reminding protesters where they're allowed to march and rally. At past demonstrations, protesters have complained they couldn't hear police directions, resulting in confusion and angry clashes.
Earlier this year, manufacturer American Technology Corp. of San Diego, Calif., won a $1.1 million contract from the U.S. Marine Corps, which used the gadgets in Iraq. The military bills them as a ``non-lethal weapon'' designed to disperse hostile crowds or ward off potential foreign combatants by delivering prerecorded warnings in several languages and, if needed, a blast of earsplitting feedback. But police insist the latter feature won't be used at the convention. ``We're only interested in communicating messages,'' Browne said.
Bill Dobbs of United for Peace and Justice, which has planned a massive anti-war demonstration on the eve of the convention, called the sound system ``a potential Big Brother nightmare.'' Police ``are trying to use technology and machinery to control every aspect of life on the street, rather than relax a little and let a part of democratic society unfold,'' he said.
Mobile metal barriers _ a variation of those installed outside government buildings, courthouses and embassies _ will form a series of checkpoints around the arena. Once a truck or car is secured between two barriers, it will be screened for bombs or other contraband by cameras that provide real-time video images of their undercarriages.
The department also will deploy a new fleet of motor scooters to cut through gridlock should trouble arise. Hand-held radiation detection devices will help officers patrolling the streets and subways to guard against a ``dirty'' bomb. While protecting federal buildings from violent protests and other threats during the convention, the Department of Homeland Security will arm its officers with non-lethal guns that can target individuals with plastic pellets filled with paint or tear gas. Some also will carry miniature video monitors that can receive feeds from an elaborate system of security cameras.
At sea, the U.S. Coast Guard plans to test a new underwater 3-D sonar system to scan pier walls and ship bottoms in New York Harbor for mines and other explosives. The apparatus can pick out objects as small as a foot long in murky waters, then beam images to an onshore computer for analysis.
>NEW YORK U.S. soldiers in Iraq have new gear for dispersing hostile crowds and warding off potential enemy combatants. It blasts earsplitting noise in a directed beam.
The equipment, called a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, is a so-called "non-lethal weapon" developed after the 2000 attack on the USS Cole off Yemen as a way to keep operators of small boats from approaching U.S. warships.
The devices have been used on some U.S. ships since last summer as part of a suite of protection measures.
Now, the Army and Marines have added this auditory barrage dispenser to their arms ensembles. Troops in Fallujah, a centre of insurgency west of Baghdad, and other areas of central Iraq in particular often deal with crowds in which lethal foes intermingle with non-hostile civilians.
The developer of the LRAD, American Technology Corp. of San Diego, recently got a $1.1-million (U.S.) contract from the U.S. Marine Corps to buy the gadgets for units deployed to Iraq. The Army also sent LRADs to Iraq to test on vehicles.
Some of the Iraq-bound devices will be used by members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, both recently deployed to the western province of Al Anbar, a largely barren, predominantly Sunni Muslim area.
Though not officially part of the military's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, the 45-pound, dish-shaped device belongs to a developing arsenal of technologies intended not to kill but to deter.
Another such weapon, to be tested in the field soon, is the Active Denial System. It seeks to repel enemies with a painful energy beam.
Carl Gruenler, vice-president of military and government operations for American Technology Corp., said LRADs are "in the beginnings of being used in Baghdad," though he said he lacked "initial feedback" on how they are working.
Dubbed "The Sound of Force Protection" in a company brochure, the devices can broadcast sound files containing warning messages. Or they can be used with electronic translating devices for what amounts to "narrowcasting."
If crowds or potential foes don't respond to the verbal messages, the sonic weapon, which measures 33 inches in diameter, can direct a high-pitched, piercing tone with a tight beam. Neither the LRAD's operators or others in the immediate area are affected.
The devices "place distance between the Marine and their threat, giving him/her more time to sort out a measured and appropriate response," Lt. Col. Susan Noel, force protection officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said in an ATC statement announcing the contract.
Mr. Gruenler compares the LRAD's shrill tone to that of smoke detectors, only much louder. It can be as loud as about 150 decibels; smoke detectors are in the 80 to 90 decibel range.
"Inside 100 yards, you definitely don't want to be there," said Mr. Gruenler, adding that the device is recommended for a range of 300 yards or less.
Hearing experts say sound that loud and of that high a frequency about 2,100 to 3,100 hertz could be dangerous if someone were exposed to it long enough.
"That's a sensitive region for developing hearing loss," said Richard Salvi, director of the Center for Hearing and Deafness at the University at Buffalo. "The longer the duration, the more serious it is."
Mr. Gruenler concedes that permanent hearing damage is possible if someone were exposed to the sound for lengthy periods.
But he said the high-pitched tone is to be used only for a few seconds at a time.
LOL! The LRAD technology is cutting edge riot control. Browne is getting his talking points directly from "propaganda central".
1. For impact noise, "too noisy" is anything that exceeds the limits in this table. Sound level* Number of impacts or impulses allowed per day
140dB 100 noise impacts per day, while wearing hearing protection 130 1000 120 10000*Decibel peak sound pressure level
1. Under no circumstances are you to be exposed to noise exceeding 140 decibels without protective equipment.
BTW, 140dB is also known as "The Threshold of Pain."
Me, I think there more interested in using this to make people leave an area than they are interested in using it to instruct people to leave an area.
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