A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

UK: 68 attacks on West Yorkshire firefighters in 9 months; 2 of these involved lasers

Between April and December 2018, there were 68 attacks on West Yorkshire firefighters, according to a February 2019 report by the West Yorkshire Fire Authority.

In some cases, rocks or other objects were thrown at the firefighters or their equipment. In other cases, firefighters were verbally abused.

In two of the 68 cases, lasers were involved:

  • On 30 September 2018, at 1837 hours whilst attending a fire in the open at Lonsdale Street, Bradford a group of youths threw fireworks onto the fire, verbally abused the crews and shone laser pens into their eyes.
  • On 27th May 2018 at 2310 hours a laser pen was pointed at crews whilst they responded to an incident on The Crescent, Ravensthorpe. The occupier also became abusive and admitted causing the fire.

The complete list of 68 attacks was published in the Telegraph and Argus on February 16 2019.

US: Laser aimed from Mexico, across border, at Texas police officers

Two police officers in Roma, Texas had laser light deliberately aimed in their eyes from across the border with Mexico, in February 2019.

The officers went to a hospital for evaluation and were released the same day.

According to the assistant chief of police, this has happened before to his officers, and to state and federal officers, although the lasers previously did not seem aimed directly and deliberately at officers' eyes.

From KRGV.com


US: Two Texas police officers lased in eyes while on patrol to distract them

Two police officers from Roma, Texas (a small city along the Rio Grande river, and a port of entry from Mexico) had lasers aimed at their eyes while on patrol. One officer had medical attention and treatment and then returned to duty.

An assistant chief of police, Francisco Garcia, said other officers from other agencies had also had lasers aimed at them in the past 30-45 days. He said it never happened before with direct hits in the eyes that caused damage.

Garcia said "This is just one of the many tactics the cartel and the criminal organizations will use to distract officers and get us away from a certain area to start illegally crossing contraband, drugs, people, everything, they cross."

He also noted concerns over whether the laser was stand-alone such as a pointer, or whether it is mounted on a weapon.

From ValleyCentral.com

New Zealand: Man aimed laser into two police officers' eyes

A New Zealand man aimed a laser pointer at police officers who were conducting a bail check on June 3 2018. When the officers arrived, Niki John Gamble-Mackesy, 23, deliberately aimed a green "high-powered" laser pointer [likely over the 1 milliwatt New Zealand limit] directly into the officers' eyes.

They felt "immediate discomfort and a burning sensation in their eyes" according to the police report. One of the officers had pain and headaches for the next two days, and was seen by an optometrist. There was no permanent injury to either officer.

Gamble-Mackesy was sentenced in Hamilton District Court on Feb. 5 2019 to four years, three months in jail, and was also ordered not to drive for two years. Charges against him included injuring with intent to injure, threatening to kill, obstructing the course of justice, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, failing to stop for police, and two charges of committing an act of criminal nuisance. It was not clear how much of his jail term, and how many of the charges, directly related to his laser attack on the police officers, and how many related to additional criminal actions he had taken such as strangling his domestic partner on May 26 2018, and attacking her again on June 8.

From Stuff.co.nz

Japan: Man arrested for aiming laser at bus driver in road rage act

Tokyo police in late January 2019 arrested a man for pointing a laser beam at the driver of a city bus last year. The man reportedly told police he got angry because the bus had cut in front of his car.

Police say the 38-year-old man aimed a laser pointer at the driver when he pulled alongside the bus that parked at a stop in Meguro Ward during July 2018. He was arrested for suspicion of assaulting the driver and obstructing public services.

The bus driver was unharmed but he felt that something was wrong with his eyes. He continued driving to the next stop before another driver took over.

The man left the scene at the time. But police identified him with security camera footage after receiving a report.

The man reportedly admitted to the charges.

Many similar incidents have been reported across Japan in recent years.

From NHK World-Japan

US: UPDATED - NFL quarterback targeted by laser pointer during playoff game

National Football League quarterback Tom Brady was targeted by a green laser beam during a NFL playoff game on January 20 2019. The beam was not noticed at the time, but a reporter saw it in a video playback.



KMBC reporter William Joy highlighted the green laser beam, seen here on the center of Tom Brady's helmet. The laser appeared to be around 4 inches wide, and danced on the quarterback's upper body — it was not held steady. Video by Turner Twyman.

According to Joy, the beam was on Brady's eyes and helmet at least three times during the game: "…once right after the muffed Julian Edelman punt call was overturned when Patriots retook possession, once on a completion to Chris Hogan, and once on a deep ball to Rob Gronkowski."

The NFL's security department was looking into the incident. As of January 23 2019, Kansas City police have not received a complaint but say they will investigate if a complaint is filed.

From the Washington Post, Boston Globe, musketfire.com and many other news sources. Sports Illustrated has an especially detailed look at the safety and legal issues around laser pointer misuse at NFL games. Thanks to Doug McCullough for bringing this to our attention.

COMMENTARY BY LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM: Based on the brightness and size of the beam in the videos, it is highly unlikely that this had enough irradiance (power density) to cause harm to any person's eyes.

Light from a laser pointer can harm human eyes at close ranges; within a few yards or meters. But at the distances involved, from a person in the stands to a player on the field, light from a handheld laser pointer would spread out (as the video shows) and would not be steady enough to allow dangerous heat to build up in the eye. This goes for both visible green light, and any non-visible infrared light (some poorly-constructed green laser pointers also emit non-visible infrared light).

The worst effect would be glare or brief flashblindness, like when a camera flash goes off close to a person's face. Since Brady did not seem to notice, and others — national sportscasters and the two teams involved — also did not notice anything unusual at the time, the laser targeting did not seem to affect the outcome of the play or of the game.

LaserPointerSafety.com has more stories about lasers misused during sporting events.

UPDATED February 3 2019: ESPN reported that Kansas City Chiefs officials, using videotape and eyewitnesses, identified the person who aimed a laser at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The person has been banned for life from the Chiefs' stadium. The officials have asked the Kansas City district attorney to bring the strongest possible charges against the person, to act as a deterrent.

ESPN also reported that "…members of the military have reached out to Brady to inform him that the lasers shined near his face could cause irreversible eye damage."

From ESPN and many subsequent sources such as the Boston Herald and CBS Sports