NYPD To Shake Up Streets With Siren-Sound Device

NBC NewYork | October 27, 2009
By Emily Feldman

New Yorkers will soon feel police presence in a way they've never felt it before.

The New York Police Department has installed "rumblers," or ground-shaking sound devices on some of their cars, to make sure that even those who can't see or hear an approaching police car, will now be able to feel it, up to 200 feet away.

"It emits vibration that can be felt, so drivers, even with their windows rolled up and stereos on, can be alerted to the approach of emergency vehicles, " NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the New York Post. "It also gets the attention of pedestrians with headphones or iPods of who may be otherwise inattentive to conventional sirens."

Not everyone is celebrating the new devices, which were installed on 25 cars last week, and 132 more today.

"The NYPD purchased and installed the equipment with no oversight, no public hearings, and with no evident liability for the massive noise pollution they are about to inflict on New Yorkers, all in the name of public safety," Richard Tur, founder of NoiseOFF.org, wrote in an e-mail. "For people who live near any of the dozens of police precincts around the city and the boroughs, this is going to be an acoustic nightmare."

Tur also points to medical concerns associated with the device--concerns identified by the rumbler's manufacturer, Federal Signal Corp. The company website warns that "audible equipment may cause hearing damage," and encourages uses to wear hearing protection.

As a safety precaution, the device turns off automatically after 10 seconds, though it can be switched on again manually.