A new kind of police siren that emits low-frequency vibrations is making waves — quite literally — in the town of Bartow, Fla. Although pedestrians may find it unpleasant, officers think it’s a safer and more effective means of announcing their presence.
“I don’t know if I could go back to a regular siren and feel safe with it,” Bartow Officer Bryan Dorman told WTSP.
Co-developed by a former Florida highway patrol officer, the Howler works by sending out a low-frequency vibration people can feel from up to 200 feet away. With electronic distractions becoming an ever-present part of our lives, the addition of the vibration to the lights and audible siren could be an invaluable safety tool.
Hundreds of police departments around the country have started using the system, including the NYPD.
While officers think the Howler is an effective device, not everyone thinks it’s such a good idea. Noise control groups have voiced their opposition, calling the siren “disorienting.”
“The siren easily triggers an involuntary stress response commonly known as ‘fight or flight.’ This results in the secretion of adrenaline, with ensuing spikes in cardio-respiratory rates, muscle tension, and elevated blood pressure,” claims NoiseOFF, a coalition aimed at reducing noise pollution. “Infrasound is low frequency sound energy that affects the nervous system and prolonged exposure can lead to progressive medical conditions.”
Police officers and noise-control groups may not agree on the Howler’s viability as a safety tool, they concur on one thing: You know when a police car is coming.