Are Police Officers Required To Turn On Sirens

Police sirens alert citizens of the car’s approach.

Every police agency has its own policy regarding the use of police sirens. Generally, sirens are used to alert the public of a fast approaching police car. The use of sirens in many cases is left to the police officer’s discretion.

Code 3

A code 3 response allows an officer responding to a call to drive at speeds higher than the posted limit and drive through red lights at intersections. This response is used for high-priority calls such as robberies in progress and bomb threats.

Life-Threatening Situations

Most police agencies require the use of sirens when responding to life-threatening situations. The officer must evaluate the information provided by dispatch to determine if a given situation can be classified as “life-threatening.”

Siren Use

Most police departments restrict the use of sirens to the officers assigned to respond to the call, their backup units and supervisors. The lights and sirens are required to be turned off if the situation is determined not to be an emergency before the police arrive on the scene.


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