The ASA Executive Council adopted the following policy on Acoustic Hailing Devices on 10 July 2020.
ASA Policy Statement on Acoustic Hailing Devices
Acoustic hailing devices (AHDs), including Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), were developed originally as military communication systems and are designed to project an intense, focused beam of acoustic energy over long ranges. As such, they are capable of delivering dangerously high sound levels (both verbal and siren-like signals) when employed at shorter ranges. In recent years, AHDs are used increasingly by law enforcement and related agencies to communicate with civilian populations at short ranges, for example, “crowd control” scenarios.
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) recognizes potential risks to human health caused by AHDs, including permanent hearing loss and strongly urges:
- Law enforcement agencies and organizations using or proposing to use AHDs for crowd control purposes to develop and adhere to strict safety guidelines on their use; these guidelines must prominently include limits on the level and duration of exposure to potentially traumatizing sounds consistent with established safety guidelines (e.g., NIH, CDC)
- The establishment of rigorous training procedures for device operators
- Funding of scientific research aimed at (a) assessing the level of risk associated with exposure to AHD signals, especially for vulnerable individuals, and (b) assessing levels within sound fields produced by AHDs in potentially untested settings such as highly reverberant urban environments
To ensure safe use of AHDs, the ASA further encourages the development of evidence-based policies on AHD usage by law enforcement and related agencies to protect targeted individuals, bystanders, and personnel from AHD-induced trauma, in addition to the implementation of procedures for monitoring and reporting AHD usage, and the establishment of public oversight, transparency and accountability mechanisms.
Recognizing the need to employ emerging technologies responsibly, the ASA recommends suspension of AHD use by law enforcement agencies for crowd-control purposes pending installation of safeguards to ensure the safety of the public.