The capability to emit long-range sound waves that are powerful enough to cause pain is being disabled in a $17,000 device purchased by Vancouver police.

The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) will be used as a high-tech megaphone only, the Vancouver Police Department announced yesterday.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association had earlier expressed concerns the LRAD would be used for crowd control during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

However, in response to concerns, Chief Const. Jim Chu said that the “tone” capability, which emits the high-pitched and possibly painful tone, will be disabled.

“If the department ever decided in the future to explore any alternate uses for the device, the VPD would develop appropriate policy and training for approval by the Vancouver Police Board,” Const. Lindsey Houghton said in a release.