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Disruptive and Destructive Effects of Laser Illuminations

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 77 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 10-15
Matt Begert; Lisa Campbell; Sid Heal
Date Published
April 2008
6 pages
This article reports on disruptive and destructive effects of laser illuminations.
More sophisticated laser technology will be employed with malicious intent in the future; law enforcement professionals must be aware of potential dangers associated with lasers and prepare for such a threat. As lasers become more technologically advanced and hostile forces modify their tactics for enhanced results, current disruptive outcomes may worsen, causing greater possible injury or death. Further, both disruptive and destructive effects of lasers may bring on psychological issues not only for the victims of such incidents, but also for those who could become targets. The visual disruption that occurs when a laser strikes the eye includes one mechanical reaction, blinking, and three physiological responses, glare, flash blinding, and afterimage. The disruption from lasing can affect an aircraft’s mission or intended operation. Important consequences of laser disruption could include temporary restrictions or modifications to the use of aircraft in support of law enforcement or public safety missions. At the point where the eye no longer can withstand the power or energy of a laser, referred to as the eye’s damage threshold, barely visible but permanent physical damage to the retina will occur. Officer safety concerns, counter a laser attack, and medical response to a lasing are further discussed. 10 endnotes