February 6, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CCLA Concerned About Use Of Sound Cannons Prior To Their Review By Ontario Gov.
Toronto (February 6 2011) – Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) has released the Terms of Reference for its review of Long-Range Acoustical Devices (LRAD). These devices have caused considerable public controversy in recent years due to their ability to cause significant pain and hearing loss. The Ministry’s review will examine the risks associated with the operation of LRADs, which are colloquially known as sonic cannons, and determine whether the devices should be classified and regulated as weapons under the Police Services Act. Currently the MCSCS does not provide police services in Ontario with any direction or guidance regarding use of LRADs. In CCLA’s view, this creates an unacceptable risk that the weapon could be used in an excessively dangerous manner.
The issue of LRAD use by police came to a head last summer, when the Toronto Police Service obtained four 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, the CCLA successfully obtained an injunction restricting the manner in which the Toronto Police Service could use the device during the G20.
Paul Cavalluzzo, CCLA’s counsel in this case, notes that “the court’s decision in June was not dispositive of the dangers to the health and safety of citizens that the police risk by operating an LRAD. This is what the MCSCS is inquiring into. For the police to operate the LRAD before this inquiry is completed would be unconscionable and irresponsible.”
The Ministry’s review was initiated at the request of the CCLA, which has longstanding concerns about the use of sonic cannons by Canadian police
CCLA General Counsel, Nathalie Des Rosiers notes that, “While we are pleased that the Ministry will be closely examining the use of LRADs, we are troubled that the Toronto Police Service has introduced these weapons into their arsenal prior to the completion of the Ministry’s review process. In the CCLA’s view, it is highly inappropriate for Ontario police services to be using LRADs before the Ministry’s review process is complete.”
CCLA counsel Paul Cavalluzzo adds, “The police are there to “serve and protect” – not to use the citizens as guinea pigs to determine if the LRAD is safe to use in the streets of Toronto.”
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