The San Diego Sheriff’s Department was rocked with controversy for placing military Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) at August town halls discussing health care. The device targeted Congresswoman Susan Davis-D and Congressman Darrell Issa-R, neither had any comment regarding the deadly LRAD misuse.
Now we know why Issa was silent – he has endorsed Sheriff Bill Gore who is in a dog fight with three other candidates to keep his job.
At a recent debate, all three candidates called Sheriff Gore on the carpet for placing military equipment used to repel terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan in the parking lot where U.S. citizens were invited by their elected representatives to engage in a discussion about health care.
That being said, Sheriff Candidate Jim Duffy explained he was present at the sales pitch for the LRAD and could not believe this military sonic weapon was on site. “I question why the LRAD would be at the event at all.”
After learning the LRAD military device required a fair amount of training and according to the manufacturer shouldn’t be operated within 75 meters of people because the weapon could cause permanent hearing loss or death, a Freedom of Information Act was filed with the Sheriff Department.
Once the training manuals and logs were requested, this reporter received some interesting documents via email from Sheriff Gore’s office. First, a four-page purchase order from a local San Diego company that sold the LRAD device for American Technologies seemed normal.
Second was a PDF copy of how the LRADs operate. This document appeared to be photocopied and came from the website http://science.howstuffworks.com/lrad. Anyone can find this on a LRAD Google search. This was far from impressive and completely unexpected when it came to what was expected from the Sheriff Department request.
The third and final document the Sheriff’s Department produced was a 55-page LRADx training manual from the manufacture. This manual discussed the usage of LRADs; crowd control was not mention within this manual.
In fact, the document was more of an overview of the LRAD device. More importantly the first page explains the LRAD weapon was developed specifically in response to the USS Cole terrorist attack in October 2000.
“The LRAD fulfills the capability to hail, warn and notify approaching vessels with prerecorded messages,” the manual reads. Photographs within the LRAD manual show an easy to operate on/off switch and a simple round knob used to adjust the decibel-sound levels.
The LRAD uses a sonic sound wave to deter or flush out the enemy. As the acoustic decibel-level intensifies, operational personnel must wear protective ear gear. LRAD sound decibels range from 20, noticeable, to 160+ which results in permanent hearing loss and/or loss of life.
Research gleaned from the Sheriff’s documents indicated the LRAD device had complaints from human rights groups and hearing specialists. They concluded the LRADs “are still weapons and have caused deaths in some circumstances.”
An email from Sheriff Gore read, “Attached are records in the possession of the Sheriff’s Department that concern the LRAD device. The Sheriff’s Department does not maintain any ‘logs.’”
However, Jay LaSuer, who is a former Sheriff Deputy and is running against Sheriff Gore, couldn’t disagree more with the Sheriff when it comes to training manuals or logs. “When I worked at the Sheriff Department Academy we keep very detail training logs for each deputy. These meticulous logs were kept just in case anything transpired with any deputy on the force.”
The company that sold Sheriff Gore the American Technologies LRAD revealed they no longer sell the device because there is better equipment on the market. The company spokesperson admitted that 95 percent of the devices sold were to military outlets.
Another interesting detail is American Technologies doesn't require a license to purchase the military LRAD device. It was up to the good standing of a company to ‘check out’ potential customers.
“We definitely used good judgment when it came to selling the LRAD; it’s our fiduciary responsibility to do so. Plus, the company was founded by retired military veterans,” a company spokesman said. “Training is essential with this type of equipment.”
This detail leaves one wondering with Sheriff Gore’s background of missteps, can San Diego expect another Ruby Ridge-type accident to happen under Sheriff Gore’s less-than-stellar record. It also questions the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, who appointed Gore to the Sheriff post when Kolender retired, whether they did any homework during the hiring process.
For more stories; www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner