Pittsburgh Police Deny G-20 ‘Sound Cannon’ Allegations

(ABC4)   PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police are defending their use of the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) to control crowds of protesters in Lawrenceville and Oakland during last month’s G-20 economic summit.

Police say the LRAD — essentially a highly-technical loudspeaker system mounted atop a SWAT vehicle — uses loud noise to get people moving after warnings to disperse have been ignored.

Carnegie Mellon University visiting professor Karen Piper told Channel 4 Action News that she was doing research about globalization and was not there to protest.

Piper said the loud noise ruptured her eardrum and caused major damage.

“The problem is the long-term hearing loss and there’s nothing they can do about that,” said Piper, who plans to speak to an attorney.

But police said that the LRAD is not a so-called “sound cannon” and does not have the technical ability to be used as one.

While the LRAD emits a harsh sound, it’s set at a relatively safe level, officials said Thursday during a news conference in the parking lot of Pittsburgh Police Bureau headquarters.

“This system — being computer-generated — allows us to deliver an intended message during intense, uncertain and rapidly-evolving situations on a consistent basis during and after police operations,” Officer Steve Mescan said.

Police said the SWAT officers who were operating the LRAD or were positioned near the device weren’t required to wear any ear protection, which shows that the volume level was safe.

“The PBP ensured that all required safety precautions were used and that the tone emitted was in the approved range for this situation,” said a statement from the police bureau.







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