Salisbury Police Utilizing New LRAD System - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Police Utilizing New LRAD System

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SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury Police department has a new tool for crowd control.  It is called LRAD, or Long Range Acoustic Device, and can be used to broadcast messages in police and weather emergencies as well.  However, some fear the power of the acoustic device can be easily weaponized.

Last May, a block party on Hazel Avenue got out on control and police were called to break up the scene.

"Next thing I knew I did see some dogs and then the mace and yelling.  I didn't really see the beer cans at first but then people were running and getting trampled and it was just crazy," said Salisbury University Senior Kayla Bibeault.

Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan said it would have been beneficial to have this new tool a few months back to help disperse that crowd.  Pepper spray was used after the situation escalated and beer cans were thrown at squad cards.  But along with the positive uses of the device like broadcasting those emergency messages, there are critics hung up on the powerful sound it can make.

"This device is intended to get your attention.  There is no argument or debate about that. That's what it's designed to do.  And as long as you're able to comply with the instructions you're being given, there is no indication whatsoever that you're going to sustain any harm," said Chief Duncan.

However, not everyone agrees. A handful of students on Hazel Avenue told WBOC that in a situation like the block party, they fear the powerful sound the LRAD can produce could cause serious damage to their hearing.  Other students say it is better than the alternative.

"I think that this is like a way that, if people complain about their ears hurting for a couple hours, it's better than having to wash mace out of your eyes," said Bibeault.

The device costs $50,000 and was purchased with revenue generated by the speed cameras in the city.

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