What is LRAD? PPB explain their ‘sonic tone’ device

Multnomah County

Mayor Ted Wheeler ordered Portland police to only use their LRAD for sharing information

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler directed police to not use a device that emits a loud sonic tone for crowd control ahead of another night of protests in Portland.

The device is called LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device. The Portland Police Bureau demonstrated the device for the media earlier on Friday.

Officers said it’s primarily a communication tool but it can also emit a sonic warning tone used to defend themselves in immediate safety sitautions.

The PPB said it used the LRAD twice during protests on Thursday night in downtown Portland: once when protesters pointed lasers at their sound truck and again when rocks and bottles were thrown at the truck.

Portland police officer demonstrate the LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device, June 5, 2020. (KOIN)

Police acknowledged the device can be dangerous but not when used correctly.

“It’s all situational,” said PPB Lt. Franz Schoening. “There have been cases around the country — you’ve heard reports that other police agencies have used it in ways that have potentially caused hearing damage. Again, I can’t speak to those. You just have to be reasonable about how far the crowd is, how long you’re using it and how high it’s turned up.”

Mayor Wheeler announced Friday evening he directed the PPB to “use LRAD only to share information and not as a sonic warning tone function.”

Wheeler is also the police commissioner in Portland. He ordered the PPB to immediately implement his decision.

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