Police may use ‘sound cannons’ during G-20

Toronto Police have purchased four high-pitched, long-range acoustical devices (LRADs) which will be used during the upcoming G-20 summit.

The devices were used at last year’s Pittsburgh summit and officers from the Public Safety Unit, Emergency Task Force and the Marine Unit will be in charge of their ear-piercing deployment.

"It’s very effective when dealing with a very large crowd, and having to overcome loud sounds, such as music and chanting," said Const. Wendy Drummond of Toronto Police.

The force has purchased three hand-held units and one vehicle-mounted system that will be used by the marine unit.

The long-range acoustical devices will mainly be used as a communications tool to transmit messages to a large crowd over a wide distance, but there are protocols for using the high-pitched alert function on people, said Drummond.

"When deployed, we would give them a pre-warning and advise them if they are not complying with the demands being made then there will be an alert function deployed," Drummond said. "That would be the higher pitched warning. It’s a burst of two to five seconds at a time that would be given at the discretion of the operator as to how many times it would be used."

Guidelines for use of the devices are currently in the process of being finalized and approved.

The hand-held units have a maximum decibel level of 137 at one metre away which can be harmful if used improperly.

The Council of Canadians said Thursday it will provide earphones to counter the annoying sound.

"Saying a sound cannon is a tool for communications is like saying waterboarding isn’t torture, just a tool for encouraging dialogue," Mark Calzavara, a regional organizer for the Council, said in a statement.

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