On Wednesday, students received a “Flyer Aware” message that the university would be testing its long-range acoustic device (LRAD). Here’s what you need to know:
- An LRAD is a mobile acoustic device that broadcasts pain-inducing noise; it’s been used against mass demonstrations. Here’s a video.
- In a follow-up email sent Thursday, the university said the testing was in anticipation of student parties on St. Patrick’s Day. Last year, police broke up the large crowd that gathered on Lowes Street.
- The Thursday email also said UD has “owned and used this loudspeaker for several years, and it has been used without any reported harm to students.”
- Chief Rodney Chatman, the executive director of public safety, told Flyer News the LRAD was used last year on St. Patrick’s Day “to disseminate instructions for the crowd to disperse….” There were no reported injuries to students.
- The university described LRADs as a tool to broadcast messages over large areas to large crowds. The email also said they can be used in emergency situations, such as a tornado or power outage, as a way to communicate.
- LRADs have the potential to cause permanent hearing loss; however, the university said it will only be used by trained professionals at safe decibel levels.
- Chatman also said in a statement to Flyer News, “The LRAD is a safe tool law enforcement uses only in situations where police need to overcome very large crowds in large areas to disseminate instructions.”
- Police used an LRAD to break up a party of unrestrained West Virginia University students in February.
Follow Flyer News on Twitter (@FlyerNews) for continual St. Patrick’s Day coverage.
Photo by Christian Cubacub.