Police Lights: Can You See Me Now?

flashing blue lights


Single beacon lights were first put into use on police vehicles in the early 1940s. The first strobe light was devised in 1931 to study moving objects. Strobes were first used on police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances in the early 1960s.

The light bar on my first police car consisted of two rotating white spot lights mounted inside a long, red, Plexiglass container. A small motor sat in the center of the unit. A chain similar to a bicycle chain hooked to a gear on the motor and to gears mounted on the bottoms of each light. The faster my car went, the faster my lights turned. Sometimes, the lights stuck in place and I’d have to roll down my window (during a pursuit or other emergency situation) to smack the fixture with my fist to start it turning again.

The devices have come a long way since.


This teardrop light comes with a leather hood to disguise the light when not in use. A half-hood is also available for the rear portion of the light. The half-hood is employed to prevent blinding the driver with bright light when the device is used inside the car. A strong temporary-mounting magnet is fixed to the bottom of the halogen light. The fixture is powered by a cigarette lighter. $40


Mini-strobe lights offer better visibility at greater distances. $30


This is the controller and switch that’s used to make headlights flash alternately (Wig-Wag lights).  $20


Lightbar capable of using only front, rear, or both sets of lights. Highly visible. Also equipped with front white takedown, and side alley lights. $1,000.00 each.


Three hole outlet for powering all those extra lights, cellphone, and flashlight chargers. $17


Streamlight flashlight w/charger $120.00


Streamlight Lantern/charger $140

*Thanks to Galls for providing today’s photos. Galls, a new friend of The Graveyard Shift, is one of the largest police supply companies in the world.  I’ve used and worn many of their products over the years.

3 replies
  1. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Thanks for mentioning that trick, Dave.

    Guys, that’s how we lit up an entire room. Simply shine the light toward the ceiling and it reflected back illuminating the entire place.

    We had rechargable Maglites.

  2. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:


    I loved my streamlight flashlight. You could aim it at the ceiling of a dark room and light up the entire room. Much nicer than the 2-cell Ray-o-vac the department issued me (along with a torch and a pack of matches for back up.)

  3. Terry
    Terry says:

    The Patrol Captain who spoke to the Civilian Police Academy class said he loves the LED lights.

    I’ve got a copy of Galls — I use it as a reference book.

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