November 29, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
416.363.0321 ext. 225
Ministry’s Review Bolsters CCLA’s Call For Regulation of LRAD
TORONTO, November 29, 2011 – Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) has released the report of its review into police use of Long-Range Acoustical Devices (LRAD). These devices, which are colloquially known as sonic cannons, have caused considerable public controversy in recent years due to their ability to cause significant pain and hearing loss. The Ministry’s review bolsters CCLA’s long-held position that police use of Long Range Acoustic Devices must be tightly regulated in order to ensure public health and safety is adequately protected.
The report, which incorporates the findings of independent testing of the potential health effects of the LRAD, finds that “the use of the LRAD in certain circumstances may result in hearing risks for operators and bystanders.” The report also recommends prescribing setback distances that vary according to volume and setting, minimizing use of the alert function and preventing uninterrupted exposure by following any LRAD use with an equivalent period of silence.
Currently the MCSCS does not provide police services in Ontario with any direction or guidance regarding use of LRADs. The Standard Operating Procedures that the Toronto Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police currently have in place are less restrictive than the independent recommendations in the Ministry’s report. In CCLA’s view, this creates an unacceptable risk that the weapon could be used in an excessively dangerous manner. CCLA has written to the Ministry, urging the Ministry to immediately adopt these recommendations, issue regulations regarding the appropriate use of the LRAD, and require all police forces to update their Standard Operating Procedures to ensure they are in compliance.
The issue of LRAD use by police came to a head in the summer of 2010, when the Ontario Provincial Police and the Toronto Police Service obtained several LRADs in advance of the G20 Summit, which they intended to use for a variety of purposes, including crowd control. Concerned about the risks associated with the use of LRADs, CCLA successfully obtained an interim injunction restricting the manner in which the Toronto Police Service could use the device during the G20.
The Ministry’s review was initiated at CCLA’s request, when the Association wrote to the Ministry after securing the interim injunction in order to ensure the appropriate regulation of the use of sonic cannons by Canadian police services. CCLA continues to argue that novel technology such as LRADs must be proactively regulated by the Province prior to being deployed on an unsuspecting public.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is a national organization dedicated to promoting respect for and observance of fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Its work, which includes research, public education and advocacy, aims to defend and ensure the protection and full exercise of those rights and liberties.
Penelope Chester, CCLA (416) 363-0321 ex. 225 or (647) 822-8764, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org