Toronto

G20 'sound cannons' won't be weapons: police

Four "sound cannons" Toronto police purchased for use during the G20 summit will not be used against demonstrators as weapons, Chief William Blair says.
A police officer stands by with and LRAD-X 100 Acoustic Communication Device (sound cannon) during a demonstration of G20 security and crowd control measures in Toronto. ((Frank Gunn/Canadian Press))
Four "sound cannons" Toronto police purchased for use during the G20 summit will not be used against demonstrators as weapons, Chief William Blair says.

Long-range acoustical devices, commonly referred to as sound cannons, can be used to broadcast prerecorded messages but are also capable of emitting ear-piercing and hearing-damaging alerts that can be heard as far as 1.5 kilometres away.

Activists viewed news of the purchase of devices with suspicion and some, such as the Council of Canadians, have suggested they would hand out earplugs to activists to protect people from hearing loss.

But Blair said the LRADs are a communication device only, and will not be used as a weapon against protesters at the June 26-27 summit of world leaders.

"This is a communication device that has been previously, on other occasions in other jurisdictions, not for communication but as a force option," said Blair.

"It is not our intent and we will not be using this device as a force option. It is, for us, a communication device."

$122M budget broken down

Blair outlined Toronto's security plan during an appearance before Toronto city council on Friday, and gave a breakdown of how the Toronto Police Service will spend its $122-million security budget.

He said $82 million of the budget will go towards covering the salaries of 6,000 policing staff. About 3,500 Toronto police officers will be supplemented by 900 Toronto police civilian employees and 1,600 officers from across the country, Blair said.

The remaining $40 million is for protective clothing, such as gas masks and helmets, as well as equipment such as radios and vehicles, and the establishment of a command centre facility.

Motorcades like this one will be a common sight during the G20 summit. ((ISU photo))

The security budget is being covered by the federal government, and won't come out of Toronto's coffers, he said.

Blair also gave a breakdown of the some of the security measures that will be used, including 77 new closed-circuit television cameras that will be installed on city streets in the downtown zone around the Toronto Metro Convention Centre, where the summit is being held.

Traffic guidelines issued

The budget breakdown came on the same day new traffic guidelines for the summit were issued by the Integrated Security Unit, which includes members of the RCMP, Toronto police, Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Forces.

Toronto-area commuters will face significant delays as they try to make their way in or out of the city during the G20 summit, according to traffic guidelines issued Friday.

"The public should expect closures and restrictions on the highways in and around Toronto on Thursday, June 24, to Sunday, June 27, due to security operations," the ISU said in a news release on its website.

These measures will have a significant impact on traffic flow on the Gardiner Expressway, the Queen Elizabeth Way, Highway 427, Highway 401, the Don Valley Parkway, and connecting arterial roads, the new release said.

It also said people living, working or travelling to or from Lester B. Pearson International Airport should expect significant traffic delays.

"Motorists should expect delays and should avoid these routes during the identified periods, if possible," the ISU said.

"The closures will affect inbound traffic into Toronto on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and outbound traffic on Sunday."

A detailed breakdown of lane reductions and road closures can be seen at http://www.g8-g20isu.ca/g20/traff-circ-eng.htm.