Front overheads OFF during traffic stop? Why? [Archive] - Glock Talk

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OXCOPS
09-07-2011, 07:08
Here in AZ, it seems to be standard for DPS (and other local agencies) to turn off the front of the overheads once they have a vehicle stopped. I don't get why. I've seen it at all hours of the day and night.

Back in my time, in another state, we were trained to turn on anything that flashed, blinked and spun.....and leave them on for the duration of the stop. The only time we would kill the forward facing overheads is when giving field sobriety tests.

Anyone know? Sam or others in AZ?

jpa
09-07-2011, 07:33
Nevada Highway Patrol does that too. I was taught the same thing you were. Anything to disorient and/or blind the subject. My guess is that it also blinds and/or disorients the officer to an extent and they don't want you walking into traffic on a dark desert road.

Sgt127
09-07-2011, 07:40
I notice Dallas has thier light bars set for steady burn, one red and one blue to the front on a stop. I'm beginning to see the logic and, have adressed it with our folks. Light bars have gotten stupid bright. I think they are as distracting for the Officer as they are for the violator.

Our new cars have corner strobes and LED lighbars. When everything is going, particulalry when there are two or three cars at night, you can barely see right in front of you, much less someone approaching on foot or in a car from the side or behind.

I was driving home the other night and came upon a major. Three or more squads, two ambulances and two or three fire trucks. Everything had every LED light cranked up. I had to come to a complete stop and stare, for several seconds, to find the cop, wearing a reflective vest, with a flashlight trying to give directions. Even his vest was simply reflecting the red and blue of the LED lights. It was like looking at fireworks and trying to pick out one individual point.

OXCOPS
09-07-2011, 07:50
I can see the issues at night. If that is the case, why during the day? Learn one way and stick to it maybe?

GunFighter45ACP
09-07-2011, 08:44
Some of the lightbars I've seen can run red/blue/strobe takedowns from the rear, while the front ones bathe the suspect vehicle & surrounding area in a bright, spotlight setup. Obviously, this is good for night time stops. Perhaps they run the same setup during the day except nix the front spotlights.

DaBigBR
09-07-2011, 09:33
The damn things are too bright and even if they weren't, the flash patterns are disorienting enough by themselves. Our bars have a slow alternating red blue (one LED module on each side) to the front in position "1" on the three position switch. I almost always use that mode after making a stop. I also think some of the very intense flashing lights can lead to target fixation.

I find at night that the four pack of LED takedown lights and the spotlight are plenty to prevent a person from seeing back to my car.

CAcop
09-07-2011, 09:34
Are the rear lights off too? CHP will kill everything to the rear in the daytime and just use forward facing reds they have on a spotlight because stupid people home in on the lights.

Gangrel
09-07-2011, 09:35
Also: doing SFSTs

AZLawDawg
09-07-2011, 09:42
Here in AZ, it seems to be standard for DPS (and other local agencies) to turn off the front of the overheads once they have a vehicle stopped. I don't get why. I've seen it at all hours of the day and night.

Back in my time, in another state, we were trained to turn on anything that flashed, blinked and spun.....and leave them on for the duration of the stop. The only time we would kill the forward facing overheads is when giving field sobriety tests.

Anyone know? Sam or others in AZ?

For a couple of reasons, it's so we don't get illuminated by the forward facing rotator lights if we're stopped back there writing a cite in the dark and also, like posted above, if we have to conduct SFST's, the front flashers are already off, so that's one less thing we have to do if we're gonna get them out of the car.
In the daytime, aside from the SFST reason, the only reason I can think of is, it's trained into you to turn off the forward facing overheads, so day or night, they get shut off - plus, alot of the dayshift Patrolmen came from working graves or swings, where they were used to shutting 'em off at night all the time.

AZLawDawg
09-07-2011, 09:45
Are the rear lights off too? CHP will kill everything to the rear in the daytime and just use forward facing reds they have on a spotlight because stupid people home in on the lights.

At night, the rear lights are always going. I can go either way with that one. Drunks hone in on them, but it's easier to find you if the SHTF and so on, and on.

merlynusn
09-07-2011, 10:03
I've definitely found the lights are way too bright. I was at a homicide and I got a headache from all the LEDs going constantly. Obviously the homicide detectives did too because they told all the cars there (even the ones blocking the streets) to kill their overhead lights.

We don't turn off the front lights ever, except maybe a real dark road at night doing SFSTs.

OXCOPS
09-07-2011, 10:23
Rear lights are always on.

jpa
09-07-2011, 11:42
OK, I just asked one of the guys at work who used to be an academy instructor for NV DPS. He said they aren't trained to do it but a lot of guys choose to do it to 1) keep from being backlit by their own lights when crossing over for passenger side approaches or 2) the lights are too blinding/distracting to them too.

He also said they're trained to shut off the front lights when doing HGN or other sobriety tests.

collim1
09-07-2011, 14:18
OK, I just asked one of the guys at work who used to be an academy instructor for NV DPS. He said they aren't trained to do it but a lot of guys choose to do it to 1) keep from being backlit by their own lights when crossing over for passenger side approaches or 2) the lights are too blinding/distracting to them too.

He also said they're trained to shut off the front lights when doing HGN or other sobriety tests.

I only turn my forward lights off during SFST's. Stepping in between your car and the suspect's for a passenger side approach is a big no no, always. My lightbar has a low power setting that I use at night time.

Eagle1
09-07-2011, 14:18
Also this is good practice so that oncoming traffic is not blinded and/or the looky loos will not stop abruptly to see what is going on. I have had alot of people going the opposite direction stopping to see what is going on and this has eleviated this somewhat.

Sam Spade
09-07-2011, 14:20
Rotating lights or strobes create shadows that are absolute bears to deal with in a shooting, or in identifying clues just prior to a shooting. Take-downs, spotlights and highbeams give more than enough light for the "wall of light" and a disadvantage to the occupants of the stopped car.

Personally, I also find that turning the lights down reduces the anxiety level for the occupants on an unknown risk stop. That has advantages when you've stopped either a taxpayer or a dirtbag.

The FST (especially HGN) issue has already been mentioned.

herose
09-07-2011, 15:24
I passed a SO patrol car on my way to headquarters one night last month that had so many lights strobing and blinking and flashing that I thought I was going to have an epileptic fit right there on the spot.

OLY-M4gery
09-07-2011, 15:38
My assigned car, a marked slicktop

Mode 1 = all the rear and side lights
Mode 2 = all the rear, side, and forward lights
Mode 3 = all rear, side, and forward lights, flashing healights and opticom strobe.

It's set up like that, for SFST, and those times you want to create a "traffic break" w/o slowing traffic in front of the police car. Also most of the time, on divided highways, or wider roads, not having the forward lights on cuts down the distraction, both due to the lights and noseyness, for oncoming traffic.

PuroMexicano
09-07-2011, 16:44
Here in San Pedro (A municipality of Monterrey), front, side, back, bumper, grill, strobes, you-name-it, are ALWAYS on, day or night, patroling or at a stop.

I've told the chief quite a few times that at night it only "warns" the BG's that the cops are coming.
His answer is always the same: ACCIDENT PREVENTION.
He is right on that, since given the instruction, traffic accidents at night have been reduced a lot because speeders slow down when they see the lights down the road.
But, man, do they disorient the coppers in the cruisers, :rofl:

pal2511
09-07-2011, 17:51
We have pretty much everything mode or just the rear. I wish we had a dim mode or low power. Sometimes if we are real lucky I hit the switch to switch my radio from police to the sheriff's departments frequency and my overhead lights come on. It's real fun driving with your lights on at the normal speed limit with people giving you dirty looks and wondering why they are pulling over. I thought they just had places to go the first time it happened :)

nikerret
09-07-2011, 18:00
It's popular around here with certain specialty units.

collim1
09-07-2011, 19:35
We have pretty much everything mode or just the rear. I wish we had a dim mode or low power. Sometimes if we are real lucky I hit the switch to switch my radio from police to the sheriff's departments frequency and my overhead lights come on. It's real fun driving with your lights on at the normal speed limit with people giving you dirty looks and wondering why they are pulling over. I thought they just had places to go the first time it happened :)

The low power feature is nice. Its still visible from a long way away, but doesn't give you a seizure if you catch a glance of it up close.

Fallout
09-07-2011, 20:18
I shut the front lights down after the violator stops, Keep the Take downs and spot light on.

My reasoning is:
I can see inside the violators car better without it being constantly washed out by red and blue.

Able to see their movements better and can see traffic coming up on me better.

I am not silhouetted by the red and blues walking up to the car

on narrow roadways I am not blinding on coming traffic.

I wish I had a low power mode or the ability to turn off my rear lights independently from my fronts. When I first started the cars we had a Pursuit mode on the light bar it kept units behind you from being blinded by your rear lights. Especially in rainy conditions.

CitizenOfDreams
09-07-2011, 21:56
Stupid question: why don't the modern LED strobes automatically reduce brightness at night? They are ridiculously bright to the point of blinding drivers instead of getting their attention.

Yankee2718
09-08-2011, 00:55
We have new LED Whelen light bars. Our bars have 3 modes. Mode 1 is only rears, 2 is front and rears, 3 is fronts, rears and siren. We use all blue with 2 slow burn amber lights on the rear to break up the blue. I honestly think we need to go to red/blue or all red. Blue is so bright at night that it can be blinding and disorienting. From what I've read it seems that drunks are drawn to blue more so than any other color. I would prefer 75% red lights and 25% blue lights.


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rookie1
09-08-2011, 01:06
The only time I kill anything forward is after the stop I push out "Rear Flash" which kills the front so the people understand that they need to drive off and have a nice day, and SFST's. It does suck walking back to the car with everything on but I guess has its pros and cons.

blueiron
09-08-2011, 01:40
I taught my agency to shut off everything forward except the high beam headlights, takedown lights, and spotlight at night. After we got the EP911 lightbars - I added in the solid burn rad and blue light segments.

It reduces the amount of lookie-loos for the oncoming traffic. It presents a much cleaner downrange area if the shooting starts [no flashing distractions] and officers shoot better when there are no flashing lights. The lightbar sidelights do not outline and define officers at the sides of the car. When the officer returns back to the car, the officer does not experience disorientation on gradient road shoulders [we had officers fall or twist their ankles because the red and blue flashing lights can visually alter depth perception].

There are no significant benefits to having flashing lights on during nighttime operations and enough drawbacks.

OLY-M4gery
09-08-2011, 02:03
Stupid question: why don't the modern LED strobes automatically reduce brightness at night? They are ridiculously bright to the point of blinding drivers instead of getting their attention.

Because over, and over, and over again, when someone crashes into a police car one of the first things they will say is "I didn't see you".

JTipper.45
09-08-2011, 09:11
Stupid question: why don't the modern LED strobes automatically reduce brightness at night? They are ridiculously bright to the point of blinding drivers instead of getting their attention.

A few years ago the Florida Highway Patrol was experimenting with a bar made by Code 3. It had a photo-sensor that would dim the lights after dusk, would switch on more red LEDs during the daylight when red is more visible and blue after dark. The bar had a ton of options but I think they killed the project because of the cost.

rookie1
09-08-2011, 13:02
Stupid question: why don't the modern LED strobes automatically reduce brightness at night? They are ridiculously bright to the point of blinding drivers instead of getting their attention.


We have a "Low Power" button this takes the lights to what I would say is maybe 50% power but not sure. However 50% is still bright and I forgot we had the button til now.

msu_grad_121
09-08-2011, 14:23
Because over, and over, and over again, when someone crashes into a police car one of the first things they will say is "I didn't see you".

I'm not trying to start a ****ing match, but I've never heard that. I have heard dozens of times about a drunk target fixating on super bright lights and packin the rear end of the patrol car.

I don't have a real good answer, but there are definitely problems both ways, it seems. :dunno:

Mayhem like Me
09-08-2011, 14:28
Most shut off the front blues and keep teh takedown, spotlight on at night cuase the LED's are so bright and distracting especially when asking them to do SFST's..

Daytime they stay on..

Mayhem like Me
09-08-2011, 14:29
I'm not trying to start a ****ing match, but I've never heard that. I have heard dozens of times about a drunk target fixating on super bright lights and packin the rear end of the patrol car.

I don't have a real good answer, but there are definitely problems both ways, it seems. :dunno:

I like the directional arrows that point AWAY from where you are our traffic cars used to have them...

msu_grad_121
09-08-2011, 14:38
I like the directional arrows that point AWAY from where you are our traffic cars used to have them...

I remember thinking those were stupid when I fist saw them, but with time, I've come to see their usefulness

OLY-M4gery
09-08-2011, 15:09
I like the directional arrows that point AWAY from where you are our traffic cars used to have them...

And we have officers that can't figure them out.................

Arrow pointing toward ditch, when they mean to direct traffic to the left of the car.

ray9898
09-08-2011, 19:59
I have turned my fronts off at night but it is not a 100% policy of mine. When I did the takedowns and the spotlight remained on the car.

DaBigBR
09-08-2011, 20:01
I rarely use my traffic advisor (the directional stick). Either people figure it out or they don't. I've had people stop dead in traffic behind me (and seen same with other officers' cars) with the dumb thing on more times than I can count. I think its actual purpose is to be inadvertently left on by the officer, rather than to actually direct traffic.

Mine is almost always just running a warning pattern, which it does by default when the lights are on.

Mayhem like Me
09-09-2011, 08:39
And we have officers that can't figure them out.................

Arrow pointing toward ditch, when they mean to direct traffic to the left of the car.

QFMFT....
These are the same guys that want to go tactical on the minivan with soccermom and two toddlers.

NoGlamour229
09-10-2011, 01:07
During the day I will keep the front and rear on...but night is a totally different ball game. We just got new light bars, which are totally TOO bright (who would have thought this would be possible?). At night I will turn the lights on and once the driver has pulled over, I will kick them to the rear and put my take downs on. I hate being blinded by my own lights on the way back to my squad.

4949shooter
09-10-2011, 04:56
Interesting thread.

Here in New Jersey you never see the overheads turned off at night.

MeefZah
09-10-2011, 07:56
I have been told previously to always leave everything on, since the violator could theoretically drive off and later claim he though the stop was over, or some such ****, because you turned off the front of the lightbar.

That said, several years ago, I did start killing the front overheads on certain stops after I made initial contact - mainly dependent on the type of occupants and the location od the stop and the amount of other traffic. Much as Sam Spade said, it reduces occupant nervousness; and with really old people I think it helps keep them oriented a bit more. A woman I recently stopped in the wee hours specifically thanked me for doing it because she worried it would bother her infant. I never really had an issue with any kind of tactical disadvantage for me; it was always more of a courtesy to the driver and other traffic.

collim1
09-10-2011, 17:43
I rarely use my traffic advisor (the directional stick). Either people figure it out or they don't. I've had people stop dead in traffic behind me (and seen same with other officers' cars) with the dumb thing on more times than I can count. I think its actual purpose is to be inadvertently left on by the officer, rather than to actually direct traffic.

Mine is almost always just running a warning pattern, which it does by default when the lights are on.

I use my directional always. They might be so stupid they dont figure it out, but our directionals are slow moving and not flashing while still being highly visible so they dont disorient traffic.

And yes, I leave mine on and drive around town for an hour atleast twice a month.

lndshark
09-11-2011, 08:07
And yes, I leave mine on and drive around town for an hour atleast twice a month.

Yeah...doesn't it suck when you're sitting at your favorite Laser/Radar/red-light-running spot thinking to yourself "gee...no one is speeding/running the red light here today", just to find out you failed to turn your lights off from the previous stop? Never happened to me...just sayin' :rofl:

nitesite10mm
09-11-2011, 09:13
Lotta truth in that.........