UK tests "non-blinding" police lasers

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58 Responses to “UK tests "non-blinding" police lasers”

  1. Guest says:

    +1 to the ghostly DNA of the Sprawl.

  2. eldritch says:

    In the coming years, I suspect anyone who can successfully design, produce, market, and sell affordable personal protection for protestors stands to make a lot of money. Specifically impact resistant body armor with insulation to protect against tazers, and face masks and helmets with gas filters, hearing and vision guards, and radio communicators.

    Paint it all some bright, vibrant color other than BLACK and you even can tell the difference between the armed police officers and the unarmed protestors!

    • Peter Turpin says:

      While I couldn’t cite a specific law (though would seem likely it’d be under the “going equipped for a particular crime”, or possibly conspiracy/terrorism laws) I have no doubt it’s already illegal to own most of these things, or at VERY least easy to rationalise into an arrest/confiscation under something.

      And frankly even if it wasn’t, if the people the police are trying to arrest are equipped to prevent them doing so, the police force gets to call in more potent equipment to enable it. And the state has the vast logistical advantage. If such kits became common, “protests” would rapidly evolve into live-fire running street battles against your own countries military. Arms races are like that.

      However the first time one of these gets field tested, I hope some protesters just have laser-pointers on them. Point them at overhead aircraft. Just one pilot reports getting dazzled and they won’t be able to prove it wasn’t the crowd-control device that did it via some random reflection. As a hazard to air-traffic I could see them getting banned pretty fast. Leverage collateral damage to corporations and paying customers against it.

      • hoffmanbike says:

        none of the items mentioned should be illegal, but as you said would just begin a riot protection/attack arms race.

      • trefecta says:

        We’re already in an arms race: it’s people sitting there vs. militarized ‘paralethal’ weaponry.

        “”protests” would rapidly evolve into live-fire running street battles against your own countries military. ”

        Look to Chicago in the spring. Protester Protection or not, I’m sure there will be both live-fire and running.

      • SoItBegins says:

        “If such kits became common, “protests” would rapidly evolve into live-fire running street battles against your own countries military. ”

        It’s time to trot out those old lyrics again.

        “Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming
        we’re finally on our own…”

  3. shizuka says:

    Gibson’s world is totally coming true, what with corporations sneakily becoming conflated with government. Just give it a few more years.

  4. Alan Olsen says:

    The only reason these people read the laws on what is prohibited is so they can find ways around those rules.

    “Be thou the loophole in the law.” – Alister Cheeney

  5. ianal, but i think the protocol on blinding laser weapons only applies to combatants (i.e. – military personnel.) so i predict you’ll have the US govt defining OWS protesters as “enemy combatants” so they can be whisked away to gitmo (or perhaps less ominously, be legal targets of CS gas.) but then have the UK govt define them as civilian protesters so they can be blinded w/ these things.

    either way, wouldn’t it just be easier on everyone if we instituted policies that didn’t rob wealth from the middle class, thus obviating the need for protests in the first place? #justsayin

    also. w00t! i’ve been promoted to “twitter wag!” https://twitter.com/#!/OhMeadhbh/status/146260471371137024

    • Cowicide says:

      wouldn’t it just be easier on everyone if we instituted policies that didn’t rob wealth from the middle class, thus obviating the need for protests in the first place?

      EXACTLY.  I wonder how much money is diverted from education, single payer healthcare and job creation in order to focus all this attention on civil unrest?

      Absolutely pointless insanity.  We invest all this money into destroying ourselves instead of investing into each other and our collective future.

      This madness has to stop.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I’ve had to fish most of your comments out of the spam bin today. Sometimes twice. I’m going to suggest that you not use bold type or masked links for a couple of weeks.

    • eldritch says:

      “I predict you’ll have the US govt defining OWS protesters as “enemy combatants” so they can be whisked away to gitmo (or perhaps less ominously, be legal targets of CS gas.)”

      OWS protesters have already been the targets of tear gas, most notably in Oakland.

      Whether any protesters have been taken away to secret detention centers, well… who knows at this point?

  6. PJDK says:

    If this works as advertised is there any reason to believe this would be a worse option than CS spray, water cannon or baton charges as a way of dealing with a violent crowd?

    That’s assuming anyone is prepared to believe in the existence of a violent crowd round these parts.

    • Doug Black says:

      I’m guessing your reading comprehension doesn’t extend to three-syllable words like “permanent”.

    • Genre Slur says:

      If this works as advertised, there may still be a reason to attenuate the use of the technology. A worse option? We’re not discussing a controlled experiment, reductionist-method-with-a-mechanistic-model-tracer ideal scenario… so the worse bit depends on which discreet example we look at. Maybe lots worse, maybe way less worse.
           Violent crowds? Look up Sturgeon’s Second Law… see Affair With A Green Monkey (short story), w/re: the I.Q. of a mob. That should illustrate my angle in an obtuse, yet clear and rewarding fashion.

    • jerwin says:

      I want you to consider how Tasers and Oleoresin Capsicum were presented to a once skeptical public. The arms dealers who hawked OC Spray didn’t say that their products could be used for torture, or against non violent resisters. Instead, they presented it as being less lethal than a bullet, and an alternative to shedding blood. Now, of course, we have trigger happy police thugs using it in a casual, unsafe, and abusive manner.

      We are now asked to consider the use of lasers. Shouldn’t we focus our energies instead on how such weapons can and will be abused? Only after considering how to minimize the possibility of abuse should we even begin to consider the proper use and role of police lasers.

  7. pete_thedevguy says:

    “If you can’t look at something you can’t attack it.” Tell that to Perseus!

  8. Brainspore says:

    “Non-blinding” compared to what? Gouging protesters’ eyeballs out?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Waterboarding became “legal” because the White House said that anything that didn’t cause organ failure or death was fair game.

      • Brainspore says:

        It’s all in the marketing. Maybe that Fox News anchor who called pepper spray a “food product” was on to something:

        Pepper Spray = Food Product
        Waterboarding = Moisturizing treatment
        Tasers = TENS therapy
        Fire Hoses = Beverage Service
        Blinding Lasers = Free Discotheque

      • Marja Erwin says:

        Mind you, they don’t follow that organ failure or death standard, or they would have to give up guns, tasers, pepper spray, tear gas, and the whole idea of pain compliance, since any of these can cause organ failure and/or death.

        • eyebeam says:

           “Does not cause organ failure or death at a rate sufficient to generate more wrongful death & injury lawsuits than the product user can afford to pay.”

  9. CountZero says:

    All we want is Molly turning up…
    This doesn’t even need to be laser based, just use high power LED’s.
    A bunch of Cree XL-M’s in an array would be seriously blinding, especially on a strobe setting. I have a 1200Lumen Cree XM-L flashlight, and in flash mode, which is somewhat slower than a strobe setting, it’s impossible to look directly at it, it’s really painful to the eyes.

  10. pupdog says:

    “Don’t be a Wilson –  Zeiss IKON Reflectos for all your protesting!”

  11. flosofl says:

    I guess I’m missing something about the “mirror shades” (child of cyberpunk though I am). Is there something intrinsic to this style of sunglasses that causes the laser to decohere? I mean the lenses have to let light in (otherwise they’d be expensive blindfolds), so why not coherent light?

    As a side pondering (since I really don’t know a whole lot about optics other than an undergrad physics class), would a polarized lens offer some sort of protection?

  12. PointZeroOne says:

    Just wait till these get on the black market. You’ll have muggings and the victim won’t be able to tell what happened because they were blinded.

  13. wrwetzel says:

    A simple corner reflector or even reflective tape, which is pretty much a bunch of very small corner reflectors, would be a pretty effective deterrent.

    I’m reminded of the time AT&T in the old Bell-System days had a problem with people using phone booths as rest rooms. Their solution was a piece of curved metal on the inside wall that would direct a stream right back at the user.

  14. kenmce says:

    >flosofl:

    >Is there something intrinsic to this style of
    >sunglasses that causes the laser to decohere?

    No.

    >I mean the lenses have to
    let light in >(otherwise they’d be expensive blindfolds), >so why not
    coherent light?

    If the lasers all come in one standard color (my money is on green) you would get something that blocked all of that color.

    >As a side pondering (since I really don’t >know a
    whole lot about optics other than an >undergrad physics class), would a
    polarized >lens offer some sort of protection?

    Only against polarized light.

  15. Cowicide says:

    Um, if the cops start using these on peaceful OWS protestors, we will make it our life’s mission to dispense them to OWS protestors en masse as well.

    FUCK THAT.

  16. jaduncan says:

    Of course, other treaties apply here. For example, proportionality under the European Convention of Human Rights.

  17. travtastic says:

    I guess I have to rush my non-irritating pepper spray to market now. There’s a glut coming!

  18. jimkirk says:

    And if you start out at LESS than 20-20?  (I’m blind in one eye and 20-200 in the other…)

    • MythicalMe says:

      My understanding is that the legal definition of blindness is that eyesight can’t be corrected to better than 20-200. I have 20-20 vision corrected, however I couldn’t even see the chart on the wall (it looks like a white blob) without my glasses. As long as I have my corrective lenses, the law says that I can drive.

  19. Eark_the_Bunny says:

    So someone seems to think that the use of so-called “non-lethal” weapons will stop the protests.  Yes they will all give up and go home where they belong.  WRONG!  The Syrian government is using LETHAL weapons on their people and it is not stopping them.  Nothing is going to stop this movement until the issue of income inequality among others is properly addressed.  The genie is out of the bottle, he is not going back in and he is mad as hell! 

  20. ackpht says:

    Since green is the most likely laser color (second harmonic of the laser’s fundamental wavelength and peak of human eye sensitivity), a set of “minus green” laser eyewear would defeat this weapon. Amber sunglasses might come close. Get your hands on a green laser pointer and try various models of sunglasses, then post the best to the internet and watch the fun.

    Of course, when they dial up the laser power to “cause discomfort” (burn you), the game changes to metal suits and reflective shields.

    If a laser is powerful enough to impair vision, deliberately pointing it at someone is an attack. With the ready availability of powerful green laser pointers, I think the authorities wouldn’t want to up the ante in this area of technology.

    • Alvis says:

      Dude, they already make those.  Science types need to protect their eyes from super-strong lasers all the time.

      • ackpht says:

        Dude, I’m one of those science types. But “real” laser safety eyewear can cost $150 a pair. Wal Mart  sunglasses might provide much of the protection at a fraction of the price.

  21. bkad says:

    I may have to reconsider my opposition of the dazzlers end up even looking half as cool as this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personnel_Halting_and_Stimulation_Response_rifle .

  22. Daniel says:

    Well, we’ve already given the police power to maim by letting them use LRADs which are exactly powerful enough to quickly cause permanent hearing loss.  Now we’re authorizing them to blind people too.  Fuck, dude, can we just bring back the billy clubs?  I’d much prefer a few broken ribs to being permanently blind and deaf.

  23. vinegartom23 says:

    I’ve been saying this for a few years now: the reason nobody thinks cyberpunk is cool anymore is its becoming our horrific crappy sinister reality day by day. I really liked cyberpunk too. I just didn’t want to live it.

  24. Damien says:

    Soon to be followed by the headline:
    UK protesters test “mirrors” against police lasers

  25. efergus3 says:

    US Army issue surplus, $30. I love the US. http://www.majorsurplus.com/Ballistic-Laser-Protection-System-BLPS-P15193.aspx You can also buy all the gas masks and filters that you want.

  26. eviladrian says:

    It’s a stunning vote of confidence in the UK police that when they say “controlling riots” we immediately picture harmless protesters getting the shit kicked out of them.

    • Guest says:

      re: “controlling riots” – i think some part of you still wants to read that as ‘riots being controlled by police’ rather than the modern and more accurate interpretation ‘riots by police to show who is in control’

  27. skabob says:

    Came here for Molly reference… leaving satisfied. 
    “When they think you are technical, go crude.  I am a very technical boy”

  28. asmodeus82 says:

    This stuff is nothing! Check out the big guns as far as protest/riot control goes the PEP
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulsed_Energy_Projectile
    Basically its an invisible laser which creates a small exploding plasma on surface which produces both a pressure wave to knocks you to the ground, and more alarmingly the explosion also produces electromagnetic radiation which interacts with your nerve tissue causing you to feel pain, even though you may not be in any.
    Also causes paralysis possibly, can also be tuned to be lethal as it was originally intended to be.

    Also be careful about protective items, anything that protects you from police weapons will likely be classified as a weapon, Police in New Zealand in 1981 classified helmets, shields, flour bombs and signs as dangerous weapons, in spite of the fact that police tactics warranted this kind of protection. And that was just to protect the success of a sporting event!!!! Imagine what they’ll pull out to protect their system and status!

  29. Thomas Shaddack says:

    This is nothing other than the good old dazzler.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzler_(weapon)

    As someone already said here, the most likely wavelength is the 532nm DPSS Nd:YAG/KTP. Other ones are possible as well, perhaps blue or red semiconductor lasers.

    There is a simple defense against all of them – the laser protection goggles, available for about $50 on eBay, will do a good job here, assuming you know the wavelength in advance.

    Another possibility, that would work against even unknown wavelength sources, is a self-darkening welding helmet. The LCD shutter in this thing is bloody fast and reacts automatically.

    Stereo glasses for 3d TV contain similar shutters. They can be hacked to become an equivalent of self-darkening welding helmets.

    Remember that we do not need a total attenuation. To stay non-lethal, the energy that can be delivered to an unprotected eye has to have an upper limit. The energy that causes temporary blindness has another, lower value; the dazzler has to get into this window. If an additional eye protection device can attenuate the beam sufficiently, we have virtually guaranteed retaining of visual capability even when the weapon is deployed.

    Conversely, the eye has a range of light levels (energy fluxes) in which it can operate satisfyingly. The protective device must not bring the energy below this range. Wavelength-specific filters and shutter-based devices neatly work around this limitation.

    As an exotic option, vanadium doped zinc telluride is said to become opaque at higher energy densities, and only at the given direction; a dazzler beam then can be absorbed without absorbing noncoherent light coming from other directions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_telluride

  30. Deidzoeb says:

    “Non-blinding” is an inaccurate, Orwellian description of a device meant to blind temporarily.

  31. UuOoBb says:

    Nothing new, here’s a video of American soldiers playing with on in Afghanistan. You have to admire the cheek of those fuckers btw:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD_ciCZJ7q0

  32. Guest says:

    I want the code-name to be “Triffid”

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