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Letter to my MP about the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)

I'm concerned about the LRAD which is apparently being deployed during the Olympics. We citizens don't seem to have a way of knowing if it will be used for backup, general crowd control, or long-term hearing damage. So I wrote to my MP; if you live in London and care about your hearing, maybe write to yours. Here's what I wrote:

Dear [____],

I'm an audio researcher living in [____]. Because of my profession, my hearing is particularly important to me. So I'm a little concerned about the Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) that the MoD has confirmed will be in use during the Olympics, and I'd like to ask you to seek some specific assurance please.

I'm aware that the device has two uses: one is to broadcast messages loudly, and one is as a non-lethal weapon which can damage hearing. The MoD has said the device is "primarily to be used in the loud hailer mode". I'm sure you can imagine that the use of the term "primarily" is a concern to me.

In a given situation, there is no way for anyone except the operator to discern which mode is being used or intended. If I am commuting through London during the Olympics and get caught up in something (a crowd situation of some sort), and an officer points the LRAD at me, I have no way of being reassured that there is no chance of permanent damage. This is why I'd like to ask you to seek very specific assurances.

Could you please press the Ministry of Defence to state specifically:

  • Is the LRAD intended to be deployed frequently, or in exceptional circumstances?
  • Under what conditions would the LRAD be used with settings that might endanger hearing?
  • What rank of officer would be required to authorise the use of LRAD with settings that might endanger hearing?
  • What safeguards are in place to ensure that the LRAD will not endager hearing, whether during correct use or operator error?

I hope you can help put these specific questions forward.

Best wishes, [____]

Reference: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/may/12/british-military-sonic-weapon-olympics

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