Long Range Acoustic Devices to be Used on Chicago Protesters

A long range acoustic device (LRAD). (Photo: Lrad Corp)

Long Range Acoustic Devices to be Used on Chicago Protesters

Chicago police said they plan on using noise devices to control crowds during G-8/NATO Summit

Chicago police are preparing to use Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) on protesters during the G-8/NATO Summit. LRAD devices send sounds, warnings and tones that are painful to the human ear. The use of LRAD devices are controversial. According to the ACLU of Pennsylvania, a bystander during the Pittsburgh protests in 2009 has sued the city of Pittsburgh for hearing loss and pain resulting from the use of LRAD.

The summit begins in Chicago on May 20 and will last several days. Protesters are expected to turn out in large numbers. Chicago police say they will attempt to learn from the Pittsburgh police's handling of protests at the G20 Summit in 2009, where LRAD machines were used as well.

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ABC7 (Chicago):Crowd control a concern ahead of NATO summit

Chicago Police are taking lessons learned in Pittsburgh to help control crowds for the upcoming NATO summit.

Police plan to use what's called a long-range acoustic device to keep crowds from getting out of hand. ABC 7's Paul Meincke learned more about the device and what worked and didn't work in Pittsburgh.

The G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September of 2009 has been called the most peaceful of modern day global summits. There are doubtless many reasons why arrests and property damage were minor compared to other host cities. Police say their intelligence paid dividends. Some protestors say the city purposely dragged out the permitting process for marches making it tougher to organize. And there is also Pittsburgh's layout: a compact downtown that come summit time was filled with riot-control police.

"My initial thought was there would be a lot of violence. A lot of security," said merchant Jimmy Sunseri.

There was indeed a lot of security. Pittsburgh has a police force of around 900 men and women, so for summit duty they recruited officers from other law enforcement agencies, including Chicago.

There were protest marches -- some with permits, some without. The largest was a march across a downtown bridge within sight and sound of the G20 meeting. The overriding message from the thousands involved was spend less on war and more on human needs.

There were no clashes, no arrests in that march, but there were other confrontations.


Chicago Police say they do have an LRAD available for use. It sends out live or recorded messages in a narrow sound beam. So you can hear the messages with clarity several hundred yards away. Police say that is how they intend to use it -- as a communications tool. But it is also equipped to emit those high-frequency alarm tones.

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ABC7 Video:

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