Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Loud Mouth of the Law 

Courtesy of our distinguished colleague Avedon Carol: With intelligence sources reporting unprecedented levels of non-specific "chatter," New York City is bracing for a huge influx of seditious bastards who may -- we repeat, may -- plan on exercising their rights to free speech and peaceable assembly before the month is out. But don't panic: New York City has been to Gizmodo and New York City says "Bring 'em on":
Forget the megaphones. Police will have a much more high-tech -- and louder -- option to make themselves heard over the din of Manhattan traffic and protesters outside the Republican National Convention.

Called the Long Range Acoustic Device, the machine was developed for the military and is capable of projecting sound at an ear-splitting 150 decibels . . . .

The department recently bought two of the 45-pound acoustic sound machines for $35,000 apiece. It would mark the first time the instrument -- which can beam sounds for 300 yards or more -- has been used by a civilian force.

Two possible uses cited by [NYPD spokesman Paul] Browne: directing crowds to safety following a terrorist attack or other calamity, and reminding protesters where they're allowed to march and rally.

The military, which has used the machines in Iraq, bills them as a "nonlethal weapon" designed to disperse hostile crowds or ward off potential combatants by delivering prerecorded warnings in several languages and, if needed, an earsplitting screeching noise.

Police insist the latter feature won't be used at the convention.
Of course not. The city just happened to have seventy grand lying around, and decided to spend it on a pair of really big bullhorns.

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