I Wonder: Why do BPD cars now have shorter lights on top?

I Wonder: Why do BPD cars now have shorter lights on top?

I Wonder: Why do BPD cars now have shorter lights on top?

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by Don Day
KTVB.COM

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 13, 2010 at 10:39 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 15 at 9:36 AM

I’ve noticed that Boise Police have new lights on their cars that are shorter. What’s the reason?

The tops of many Boise Police squad cars are getting a makeover – swapping out old-style twirling lights and sirens for a sleek new light bar.

Instead of large individual spinning lights arranged on top the car, the new light bars are a single piece, embedded with lots of tiny LED lights.

Police spokesperson Lynn Hightower says the time was right to upgrade.

"The problem with the old light bars is that they are 20 years old,” she said. “The new ones are the latest and greatest. They are more expensive, but they are longer wear, brighter and offer more operational efficiencies. They use less energy and they're brighter.”

Instead of old technology that required moving parts and light bulbs that burnt out, the new system has bright, long-lasting LED lights that don’t move – but instead are animated much like a digital billboard.

"We do believe that because they are brighter and because they offer varying patterns, there's an added measure of public and officer safety with these new light bars,” Hightower said.

The program to replace the lights started this fall and will take three to four years to complete.  The new system does cost more – about $2,000 each – but money should be saved in the long term with lower maintenance costs.

A few BPD cars no longer have any lights on top – instead mounting the lights inside the car.  But Hightower says there are only three in the fleet – and they have no plan to add any more.  She says officials believe there is a benefit to the public being able to easily ID squad cars.

BPD isn’t alone – agencies like the Ada County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police are also rolling out similar light bar systems.

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