NSW Police Should Not Have Sonic Weapons

NSW Police Should Not Have Sonic Weapons

[This is a letter I've sent to my NSW MP. Perhaps you could send something similar to your MP?]

I'm writing asking for assistance to take these mass punishment devices away from police.

On Jun 12, at Hyde Park, NSW Police threatened the use of, and then tested, the euphemistically named "Long Range Acoustic Device", a sonic weapon (LRAD). All LRAD models of capable of inflicting mass punishment on anyone in the area, all capable of sounds well above the threshold required for causing permanent nerve damage and hearing loss.

These weapons are no joke, they cause extreme pain and discomfort, and undermine our right to protest, which is critical to democracy. Many people left the protest when the LRAD came out on Jun 12 -- who wants to risk permanent hearing loss?

You can clearly hear NSW Police test the weapon on this Nine News video, and you can see Superintendent Gavin Wood talking into a microphone labelled "LRAD" clearly on this Nine News video.

Then the NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing flatly lied about this to the media, claiming "There is one issue I want to clarify out there about the alleged use of some sort of sound weapon by police, 'That is not the case, police officers used a normal loud hailer to issue a warning to the crowd.' (Daily Mail link, unfortunately) or a megaphone (Sydney Morning Herald link). All LRAD devices are sonic weapons capable of permanent damage, none are "normal loud hailers".

Does the NSW Police have such little oversight that they think they can simply lie about this without consequence?

Our police simply should not have these occupying-army weapons. The weapons will disable people, and even without being used they have a chilling effect on protest and democracy. I'd like you to try to take away these weapons from Police, using whatever means necessary -- law changes, budget scrutiny, whatever.

Thank you,
- Mark Hansen.


It looks like they were using a handheld LRAD 100X, capable of 137dB.

At 0:01: "This is a test of the Long Range Acoustic Device". At 0:15, it looks like a handheld LRAD 100X
At 0:41, the microphone is clearly labelled "LRAD".
Picture of the LRAD 100X model, with picture of its microphone. The picture matches what the police held in Sydney.
The bottom microphone is what we see the NSW Police using in the video above.
t=0:29-0:45s, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing: "There is one issue that i want to clarify out there, I have seen some social media reporting around the alleged use of some sort of sound weapon by police, that is not the case, police officers used a normal loud hailer to issue a warning to the crowd".

Tom Raue has written a short history of the LRAD, what it does, how to react if one is deployed.

Mark Hansen

Mark Hansen

I'm a Software Engineering Manager working on Google Maps in Sydney, Australia. I write about software {engineering, management, profiling}, data visualisation, and transport.
Sydney, Australia