Sheriff's Department Responds To Sonic Device Outrage

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department Tuesday responded to 10News' report about a new sonic weapon known as a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD.

The technology has been used in Iraq to control insurgents, and now it is in the sheriff's department's possession.

With some people concerned over whether the LRAD would be dangerous and if it would be used the way it is in war zones, 10News contacted the sheriff's department for their take.

The device was originally made to be used for war, and it emits high-pitched sounds as a form crowd control.

On Monday, members of the American Civil Liberties Union spoke with 10News, and they expressed outrage that local law enforcement had the device and that they had brought it to recent town hall meetings in case things got out of hand.

Kevin Keenan, of the ACLU, said, "We think that local law enforcement shouldn't be using military style weaponry like that."

On Tuesday, Ed Musgrove of the sheriff's department told 10News the device was only being used for good, like helping search-and-rescue teams and warning residents during fires or floods.

"So, it will never be used in San Diego as a weapon?" asked 10News' Ariana Duarte.

"No, not by the Sheriff's Department, no," said Musgrove.

"And that's a guarantee?"

"Yes."

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore was recently quoted saying the LRAD was purchased for events "should there be any problems." He also added, "We could use the LRAD in place of pepper spray."

Duarte asked the sheriff's department about the comment and they said it was probably a poor choice of words and insisted that the device was only here to help.

"If the issue was getting the message out to people that need to hear it, then this is the device to do it," said Musgrove.

"So, is it used to startle them?" asked Duarte.

"No."

"Then how is it comparable to pepper spray?"

"I don't know that I would make that comparison."

The LRAD cost the sheriff's department $27,000, and it was paid for with money from a 2007 Homeland Security grant.