April 2008 / 1
n the spirit of lessons learned from the tragicevents of September 11, 2001, the
presents three feature ar-ticles on laser threats derived from both negligentuse and the intentional criminal employment of laser devices and weapons that can disrupt humanvision and potentially cause short- and long-termdamage to the human eye. The danger this threatrepresents increases substantially when civil and private aircraft, commercial cargo carriers, and air- borne law enforcement entities become the targetsof these laser illuminations. Loss of pilot visionand air-ground reference can result in serious andcatastrophic outcomes that can lead to both crewand passenger injury and loss of life, as well asimperil citizens on the ground.To adequately address this topic, the
once again has joined with the Futures WorkingGroup (FWG), a partnership between the FBI andthe Society of Police Futurists International (
). Theﬁrst such collabora-tion took place in the January 2004 issue on futuresresearch and policing. The mission of the FWGis to promote innovation through the pursuit of scholarly research in the area of police futures toethically maximize the effectiveness of local, state,federal, and international law enforcement bodiesas they strive to maintain peace and security in the21st century. Members have completed projects onsuch topics as the use of augmented-reality tech-nology, neighborhood-driven policing, homelandsecurity, policing mass casualty events, and thefuture of policing. As part of the FWG, the Futur-ists in Residence (FIR) program, operational since2004, affords researchers and practitioners an op- portunity to conduct original research. The FIR pro-gram, housed within the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI Academy, has conducted research on hu-man resource management in policing, the future of leadership in law enforcement, and the current ef-fort on lasers as weapons that police may encountertoday and, perhaps more so, in the future.The three feature articles cover several aspectsof laser threats, especially those most applicableto the law enforcement community. First, “LaserWeapons” provides an overview of weaponry evo-lution and how lasers and other forms of directedenergy systems have begun to supplant conven-tionalﬁrearms because of enhanced tactical andoperational functions. Next, “Disruptive and De-structive Effects of Laser Illuminations” describesthe potential dangers associated with lasers and of-fers countermeasures for those targeted, especiallylaw enforcement ofﬁcers. Finally, “Laser LegalIssues” highlights the importance of deterring laserincidents and the need for statutory provisions toenable prosecution for these acts.All three articles echo the need for the lawenforcement profession and the public to becomeaware of the potential dangers associated with laserilluminations. Whether wielded by a terrorist intenton forcing an airliner to crash or by an ardent fantrying to attract a celebrity
s attention, lasers cancause immense tragedy. But, by recognizing thedangers, taking steps to reduce illuminations, andenacting effective laws regarding the malicioususe of lasers, society can ensure that this emergingthreat will notﬂourish.
Recognizing Laser Threats