Discretion In The Use Of Police Emergency Lights

When a police officer is responding to a call, he often has to decide whether to use his lights or not. His decision is based on several factors, and the discretion he may employ depends on the state and local laws.

Emergency Calls

Most states require police to flash lights and use sirens when responding to emergency calls. This is especially important in residential areas and busy areas of town if the officer must speed to respond to the call quickly.

Routine Calls

On routine calls not considered emergencies, overhead lights are unnecessary. On these types of calls, however, the responding officer should not be speeding and should obey all traffic laws.

Urgent Calls

If the officer responds to an urgent call, the situation dictates whether lights and sirens are used. If a covert operation is in progress, the officer may choose to approach silently to avoid alerting a suspect, but she should proceed with caution since other drivers might not see her approach at intersections. If it is not a covert operation, then lights and sirens are required.

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