NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD – NYC CHAPTER ATTORNEYS DEMAND RESTRAINT, JUSTIFICATION IN NYPD USE OF “LRAD” SOUND CANNON
Elena Cohen, Esq.
National Lawyers Guild – NYC Chapter (“NLG-NYC”) President
Gideon Oliver, Esq.
NLG-NYC President Emeritus
Mark Taylor, Esq.
Attorneys associated with the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (https://www.nlgnyc.org) representing several people injured late last week when NYPD officers deployed a Long Range Acoustic Device (“LRAD”) in Midtown Manhattan delivered a letter to New York Police Commissioner William Bratton today demanding that the NYPD refrain from using the LRAD for crowd control purposes without first conducting thorough, independent testing, and developing appropriate written and public guidelines for training, use, reporting, and oversight requirements regarding the LRAD.
Their clients were participating in, observing, or documenting anti-police brutality protests in the wake of the Staten Island grand jury’s failure to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with the death of Eric Garner when officers from the Department’s Disorder Control Unit (“DCU”) deployed the LRAD.
According to the DCU, the LRAD can be used for communication or as an “area denial” tool, emitting a piercing sound ranging from a maximum of between 136 to 162 decibels, depending on the model. Under National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health guidelines, exposures to sounds at levels greater than 85 decibels may cause hearing loss. According to DCU documents themselves, in the “dangerous range (above 120 decibels), the device can cause damage to someone’s hearing and may be painful.”
The NYPD has had LRADs since 2004. A 2011 Freedom of Information Law request has shown that as of September 2012 the NYPD had not implemented any training standards or guidelines for use of the LRAD.
Attorneys Gideon Oliver, Elena L. Cohen, and Mark C. Taylor contend that officers utilized the LRAD unconstitutionally and dangerously, without having first conducted appropriate studies, created appropriate policies and oversight mechanisms relating to safety and appropriate use of force, and trained officers in them.
Copies of the letter and other related documents are available upon request.