Are you serious? Really?!
The city of Chicago ordered $1 million worth of riot-control equipment including a “sound cannon” that can produce painful sound waves of up to 150 decibels. These devices, also known as LRADs or long-range acoustic devices, are being used increasingly across the U.S. and abroad as a method of crowd control. The LRAD’s power lies in its ability to emit sound beams as if traveling through a tunnel and can reach a target as much as 1600 feet away. For humans, pain is between 110 and 120 decibels. Any exposure to this device at its maximum power could cause irreversible damage and debilitating tinnitus (ringing in the ears) since the sound exceeds that of a jet engine or a gun shot near the ear.
There have already been documented cases of irreparable hearing loss caused by exposure to LRADs. Karen Piper, who attended the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, sued the city after allegedly sustaining permanent hearing loss when the city used their LRAD.
“The intensity of being hit at close range by a high-pitched sound blast designed to deter pirate boats and terrorists at least a quarter mile away is indescribable. The sound vibrates through you and causes pain throughout your body, not only in the ears. I thought I might die,” Piper, now an English professor at the University of Missouri, said in a press release. “It is shocking that the LRAD device is being promoted for use on American citizens and the general public.”
While crowd control is important, numerous studies have shown the considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive, and health effects of hearing loss. Tinnitus as well has been very stressful for many people with no escape from the ringing.
Would authorities use a light that was bright enough to cause blindness? Of course not! Let’s hope these devices are not used. Hearing keeps us connected to our families, friends, coworkers and in reality, the world around us.