Since the mid-2000s, handheld laser pointers have become readily available to the public. Although there are no federal laws against owning lasers of any power in the U.S., there are restrictions on manufacturing and selling laser pointers for “amusement or pointing” purposes that are over 5 mW in the U.S. and 1 mW in the UK. Yet, even at 1 to 5 mW, laser pointers are still dangerous when pointed directly at someone’s eyes.Police and airline pilots are often subjected to either inadvertent or malicious (even if ignorantly done) attacks with laser pointers. The dangers of laser pointers are:
- distracts police in dangerous situations
- causes temporary blindness
- can cause long-term damage to the eyes (burning the retina and cornea)
Reported laser pointing incidents in the U.S. sharply increased from 2014 to 2015 from 3,894 to 7,703 (FAA statistics); since 2015, incidents have decreased to 6,753 in 2017. And in the UK, according to an article on Manchester Evening News called “Police respond to one laser pen attack EVERY DAY, new figures show”:“Police data has revealed there were over 1,000 incidents in the region over the last two years…”Law enforcement is taking this threat more and more seriously, as they crack down on the irresponsible use of aiming laser pointers at passing helicopters and planes, as well as at police and civilians at ground level. Let’s discuss this topic more by examining 5 new stories showing why police need laser safety glasses.
News Story #1: Boy Burns Hole in His Eye with Laser Pointer
This incident is covered in an article on CBS News called: “Laser pointer burns hole in young boy’s eye”, written on June 21st, 2018 by Ashley Welch, as she explains:“A 9-year-old boy in Greece was left with damaged vision after staring into a laser pointer. …The doctors also found a ‘large macular hole’ in the retina of his left eye. …’The child reported playing with a green laser pointer and repeatedly gazing into the laser beam,’…”While this news story doesn’t involve an attack on police, it does show how dangerous even a 1 mW laser pointer can be. Unfortunately, this boy had to learn the hard way by damaging his own vision, yet other juveniles and adults often experiment on others instead of themselves, such as pointing them at police or passing aircraft.
News Story #2: Student Aims Laser Pointer At Police Helicopter
This incident is covered in an article on The Washington Post called: “American University student charged with pointing laser at police helicopter”, written on January 23rd, 2017 by Spencer S. Hsu, as it explains:“An American University student appeared in court Monday on a federal felony charge of aiming a laser pointer at a U.S. Park Police helicopter on Inauguration Day on Friday. The student, George Herdeg, 21, from San Antonio, is an international-studies major in his senior year, the university confirmed. …a U.S. Park Police helicopter that was circling demonstrations near Franklin Square at about 3:41 p.m. Friday, saw a series of ‘transient green flash[es],’…” Basically, a police helicopter was attacked with a laser pointer by a college demonstrator during a political protest. This type of incident shows why police need to wear protective laser safety glasses in the line of duty.Here are some features of laser safety glasses that’ll help police with incidents like this:
- Laser safety glasses block out the damaging light from all three laser color spectrums (red, green, and blue)
- Police with prescription eyewear needs can also be protected
- Polycarbonate lenses offer great protection from other eye-damaging debris
- Lightweight frames and lenses are practical for field use
- Different frame and lens styles and shapes offer fitting selections
- Innovative lenses offer maximum visibility in darker environments
News Story #3: Man Aims Laser Pointer at State Trooper
An article found on The Detroit News called: “Roseville man charged with aiming laser at state trooper”, written on April 17th, 2017 by Charles E. Ramirez, explains another laser pointing news story:“Police said a state police trooper was traveling on eastbound Interstate 94 in Wayne County at about 8 p.m. Friday when the passenger of a westbound vehicle shined a laser pointer into his eyes.”This incident shows how police on the ground are susceptible to laser pointer attacks too. The 32-year-old man that flippantly aimed his laser pointer at passing state troopers in their vehicle was charged with a four-year felony assault charge. The state trooper was transported to the hospital with vision problems and a severe headache, yet did recover and made it back to work soon thereafter.News Story #4: Man Takes Aim at Virginia Police with Laser PointerAnother danger of laser pointers is police might think the beam is coming from a scope on a gun. A news story found on Fairfax County Police Department News called: “Man Charged With Shining Laser on Officers”, written December 7th, 2016, explains:”As they waited outside a home to speak to someone, one officer noticed a red laser pointed directly at them. Not knowing the source or purpose of the light, both officers took cover.”The police officers were responding to a garage door being left partially opened when this incident occurred. Taken by surprise and not knowing whether the red dot was from a gun’s laser scope, they took cover immediately. Thankfully, it wasn’t an assassin, yet the perpetrator (24-year-old man) in a nearby apartment complex was found soon after and charged with a crime.News Story #5: Disorderly Drunken Man Aims Laser Pointer at PoliceAn article found on Star Press called: “Man charged with pointing laser beam at officer”, written on September 13, 2016 by Douglas Walker, explains:“After he was warned to stop shouting and leave the area, the New Castle man reportedly ‘flipped a lit cigarette’ that hit a police car. He then allegedly produced a laser pointer and pointed it into the police car, with ‘a red light circling across my uniform shirt,’ one of the officers wrote.”This is yet another incident showing how easily laser pointers can be used against the police in the line of duty every day. This disgruntled man used his laser pointer as a weapon to agitate and bother the police; thankfully his aim wasn’t good enough to hit their eyes, yet this incident does show how easily police can be targeted when they least expect it.ConclusionThese 5 news stories are only a sample of the thousands of laser pointing incidents that have occurred over the last decade or so. While not life-threatening, laser pointers can still cause serious damage to the human eye and can be a dangerous distraction for police in the line of duty. This is why police should be equipped with high-quality laser safety glasses during their everyday duties. To learn more about laser safety glasses please contact us today.