A device acquired by Vancouver police able to emit sound waves strong enough to cause pain and disrupt crowds will be used only as a public address speaker, a police spokesperson said.

Const. Lindsey Houghton confirmed the long-range acoustic device was purchased for $17,000 over the summer and said it was successfully used as a high-tech bull horn during the annual fireworks celebration.

He admitted the device can emit piercing sounds, which has critics worried it could be used for controlling protesters during the Olympics.

It has been used by the U.S. military against insurgents in Iraq.

Robert Holmes, of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said there has been no safety testing of the “weapon” in Canada.