Archive

Police claim long-range hailing system kept low | TribLIVE.com
News

Police claim long-range hailing system kept low

Pittsburgh police stuck to the lowest volume setting on a long-range hailing system they used to order protesters to disperse during the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh, SWAT team officers said during a demonstration of the device this week.

Known as the Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, police officers turned the highly focused loudspeaker on a group of reporters and television cameras gathered in the police headquarters parking lot for a demonstration.

“There’s some misnomers in the media right now that this device here is somehow a sonic cannon, intended to hurt people,” said SWAT Officer Steve Mescan, a city police officer for 15 years.

“It’s actually a speaker that delivers an intended message to an intended group of people to disperse an area.”

The LRAD has three volume levels: green, yellow and red. Mescan said police have been trained to not increase the volume beyond the safe, green level.

“We always stay in the green area,” he said.

Police can program the LRAD to broadcast high-pitched warble repeatedly. The voice that people hear is computerized. It can make announcements in Spanish and other languages.

City officials originally pegged the cost of buying four of the devices with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant at roughly $200,000.

Ray DeMichiei, city deputy director of emergency services, however, put the cost at $101,000.

City and county SWAT teams will each get two LRADs.

One will remain in the city’s Ballistic Engineered Armored Response vehicle – better known as the BEAR – for use during protests and standoff situations, Mescan said.

The device can be mounted atop the BEAR. From there, it sends out a loud stream of sound 30 degrees wide.

It is effective to roughly 330 yards, but can be heard at greater distances. Police bought the devices to deal with protesters during the G-20 summit, but they will have other uses.

Police used it yesterday to order residents of Saranac Street in Beechview to stay in their homes during a standoff with a gunman who killed himself.

Before the G-20, police used the LRAD to order a man holed up in a home in Beltzhoover to surrender, Mescan said.


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.