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Side-mounted lights in low-light and no-light traffic stops


Something has caught my attention with the addition of the side-mounted (on mirror) warning lights to most of the patrol and traffic vehicles in my department. As officers, we are taught to disguise our approach to a stopped vehicle of a traffic offender or criminally suspicious vehicle by not allowing our cruiser doors to slam or close loudly. This is very good practice, as any person wishing to harm the approaching officer would be alerted to their approach.

Needless to say, anyone wishing to harm the officer would be paying close attention to the cruiser and actions of the officer. In low-light and no-light conditions, the sound of the door closing is still very important to be aware of. However, with the addition of the mirror mounted lights, the opening of the cruiser door can be given away by the light from the mirror lights passing across the offender's vehicle and back again. This occurs because the mirror lights are attached to the door and as the door is opened and closed, the movement is transmitted to the beam of light cast by the warning light. If the offender is paying attention and wishes to do you harm, he or she will recognize this as their chance to do so.

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