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Ask a Trooper: Use of Emergency Lights


Recently, I pulled over for a trooper who was coming up fast from behind traffic. The red lights were on and I could hear the siren. After he passed the traffic, I could see way up ahead that he turned his lights and siren off, and within a minute or so he pulled into a gas station pump on the other side of the road. Can troopers or other officers use their red lights and siren just to get to a gas station, or wherever?


No, they can't, and I am sure that is not what happened in that case. What you described actually happens often. We get called to an incident or event only to have it cancelled on the way there. It's easy to see why you think that it was a misconduct of some type, but I assure you that it was not.

An exaggerated case like this happened to another trooper and me several years ago. We were just stopping for dinner before our evening got any busier, as it was snowing. We received a call to a crash on a highway in the next county. Of course, we responded immediately (red lights and siren). We could not locate the crash and determined it was just a vehicle in the ditch. Whoever was in the vehicle got out and left, as is often the case in the winter. So we decided to go into the nearest café and quickly have our dinner. As we were sitting there, an elderly female came in and started yelling and pointing at us, and making a big scene. I am sure she thought the same as you did, and was making sure everyone in there heard her yelling at us, and why. She then left without allowing us to explain what happened. Everyone looked at us, and then they started minding their own business again. We went back to work after eating. It was all in a day's work!

It's funny now looking back. We know that what you described actually happens a lot, but it's not what it seems. Thanks for asking.