A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Coast Guard looking for info on Florida

From a news article by the U.S. Coast Guard, issued January 22 2021:

Coast Guard seeks information after rescue crews lasered near Riviera Beach

MIAMI — Coast Guard Investigative Service agents are seeking information pertaining to a person or persons pointing a laser light on three separate occasions at Coast Guard rescue crews while underway near Singer Island.

Following the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act, it is a federal offense to point lasers at Coast Guard vessels and cause bodily injury to an officer. Offenders of this federal offense can receive up to $25,000 in civil penalty fines. Criminal penalties can face up to 25 years imprisonment.

It is a federal offense to direct laser pointers at aircraft under 18 U.S.C 39A and offenders can face up to five years imprisonment.

“Pointing a laser at any Coast Guard vessel or aircraft is extremely dangerous and a federal crime,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Zinna James, CGIS Southeast region. “We encourage anyone with information about these incidents to report then to the CGIS tips app.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact CGIS at https://www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=878#

US: Coast Guard looking for info on Alaska laser strike

From a news article by the U.S. Coast Guard, issued January 22 2021:

Coast Guard seeks information after laser strike hits Ketchikan boat crew

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard is seeking information from the public in locating a suspect or suspects who pointed a green laser light at the cabin of a Station Ketchikan boat crew conducting underway operations Saturday night.

The laser strike occurred around 8:45 p.m., while the boat crew transited north in the Tongass Narrows. The point of origin reportedly came from an area near the intersection of Baranof Avenue and Carlanna Lakes Road.

The crew aboard the 45-foot Response Boat-Medium immediately averted their eyes and transited north out of range of the laser. Laser pointers can cause danger to Coast Guard boat crews due to glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision.

“Laser strikes jeopardize the safety of our boat crews,” said Capt. Stephen White, commander, Coast Guard Sector Juneau. “It is important for the public to understand that using these lasers irresponsibly is dangerous. It not only puts our boat crews at risk, but it also degrades our ability to respond in emergency situations, which means we may not be able to help if a mariner needs us.”

Causing the beam of a laser pointer to strike a vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States is a felony crime under 46 U.S. Code Section 70014.

Coast Guard Investigative Service agents are working to investigate the incident. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact investigators at 907-463-2117 or anonymously at CGIS tips: https://www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=878#

US: Protester accused of aiming laser at officers' eyes has felony charges dropped on technicality

A Black Lives Matter protester charged with nine felony counts of aiming a laser pointer in the eyes of police officers, had the charges dropped on January 14 2021 because prosecutors waited 46 days to file charges; the deadline is 45 days.

An additional six counts of aggravated misdemeanor assault, related to the felony counts, can proceed since they were filed on time.

The protester is accused of aiming a laser at the eyes of several University of Iowa police officers during an August 31 2020 protest in Iowa City. The officers reported temporary vision loss, headaches and "other health problems."

To convict on the misdemeanor counts, prosecutors will have to show that the protester intended to inflict serious injury on the officers when he aimed a laser at them.

The 25-year-old protester was named Matthew Bruce at the time of the protests, and said he has since changed his name to Mate Farrakhan Muhammad.

From The Gazette and the Des Moines Register

US: Coast Guard looking for info on Portland laser strike

From a news release by the U.S. Coast Guard, issued January 15 2021:

Coast Guard seeks information after laser strike hits Portland boatcrew

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Coast Guard is seeking information from the public in locating a suspect or suspects who pointed a green laser light at the cabin of a Station Portland boatcrew conducting underway operations Tuesday night.

Coast Guard crews from Station Portland have been struck with lasers several times in the past six months.

The latest laser strike occurred around 10 p.m. and reportedly came from a building on the southern shore of the Willamette River west of the Fremont Bridge.

The crew aboard the 29-foot Response Boat-Small immediately conducted an on-scene health assessment after the strike and then safely transited back to base. Laser pointers can cause danger to Coast Guard boatcrews due to glare, afterimage, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision.

"Laser incidents are incredibly dangerous, put the safety of our boatcrews in jeopardy and degrade our ability to navigate and respond to emergencies," said Lt. Cmdr. Colin Fogarty, enforcement chief, Sector Columbia River. "We ask the public to understand the dangers associated with playing with lasers and how they disrupt our crews from responding to mariners in distress."

Causing the beam of a laser pointer to strike a vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States is a felony crime under 46 U.S. Code Section 70014.

Coast Guard Investigative Service agents are working to investigate the incident. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact investigators via: https://www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=878#

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

A story in the Takoma News Tribune discusses the result of the health assessment: "The crew was evaluated on scene, but a spokesperson for Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest told McClatchy News in a phone interview that it cannot release the crew’s medical information."

US: Laser pointers used in Jan. 6 Capitol attack?

A Washington Post article on the January 6 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol mentions laser pointers being used as weapons.

The relevant paragraph states: "D.C. police said Monday [Jan. 11] that one District officer remained hospitalized. They described many of the injuries as sprains and bruised arms and legs, but many others appear far more serious and caused by repeated blows from sticks, poles and clubs and laser pointers shined into officers’ eyes."

From the Washington Post

COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM

Besides this one reference, LaserPointerSafety.com has not been able to find any other account or claim of laser pointer misuse during the Capitol attack.

There are videos of a rioter aiming a bright handheld spotlight at officers. We do not know if these are Capitol Police, or D.C. police called in to assist.

In the top screenshot, it appears an officer at the right side of the doorway is aiming a similar spotlight out towards the rioters. At bottom center is the only protester we have found with a light.

Spotlight aimed at officers during Capitol riot January 6 2021

Pic 2021-01-12 at 6.19.38 PM sharpened 600w squashed
Click on either photo for link to original video

The bottom screenshot, from a video by Brendan Gutenschwager (@bgonthescene - Twitter) shows the spotlight. Despite the bright yellow sticker, after extensive searching we have not been able to find the model of the spotlight. Here is one that is similar:

Pic 2021-01-12 at 7.54.41 PM 600w squashed

It is not known if the rioter's spotlight was misidentified as a laser pointer, or whether there were laser pointers used elsewhere.

In extensive viewing of footage taken inside and outside the Capitol during the event, we have not been able to spot any laser light or other signs of pointer usage.

The riot took place during daylight hours, when laser pointers typically are not used during protests. There was a 6 pm curfew, enforced by D.C. police and other officers. It may be that pointers were used at dusk or after sunset which was at 5:02 pm that day.

In conclusion, if there was any laser pointer misuse at during the U.S. Capitol riot, it appears to be minor or inconsequential (or non-existent) compared with misuse at U.S. protests earlier in the summer.

For more information: We have listings of LaserPointerSafety.com stories tagged "protester", "riots", and "arrests at protest." We also have a page about Laser use during protests.