Michigan state police lighting

BillyG

Junior Member
Here is an article from a Niles area newspaper:


Ask Trooper Rob: Why does the state police use the single red lights?


Published 10:11pm Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The Michigan State Police (MSP) patrol car is perhaps one of the most recognizable in the nation with its single red “bubble” or “gumball” overhead light, blue paint and “stop” placard.


But we’re consistently being asked one question: Why does the Michigan State Police have a single red overhead light on its cars? As the only state police department in the country to use this design, the single overhead red light is unmistakably identifiable to Michigan residents and other law enforcement agencies.


Many people often assume it is used today solely as tradition.


But there’s more to the story. The MSP has had marked patrol cars since 1929. Originally, the only emergency lights were red spotlights mounted on the right-front fender with the word “stop” on the glass. The department began using overhead convex-shaped light fixtures with front and rear red bulbs in the 1940s. The light as we know it today was first installed on patrol cars in 1956.


While many are accustomed to this look, the benefits go beyond tradition. The single overhead light has been proven to enhance acceleration and performance.


The nationally recognized Police Vehicle Evaluation, conducted by the MSP Precision Driving Unit, has found vehicles with a full overhead light bar accelerate slower than vehicles with a single overhead light.


Additionally, the reduced forward-facing surface area of the single light provides greater fuel savings when compared to the larger surface area of a light bar. In the past couple of years, the MSP’s “bubble” overhead light began to undergo a conversion to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to improve its energy efficiency.


Working with Whelen Engineering, a Brighton-based firm, a prototype was developed. And after nearly four years of research, development and testing, Whelen Engineering and the Precision Driving Unit produced a light kit that fits in the existing overhead light shell. The new LED overhead light produces an intense, wide-angle red light in all directions that only requires three amps to operate.


Each kit uses 12 light heads, nine LED bulbs per head, for a total of 108 lights in each car — far more than most standard light bars. The LED bulbs have a 100,000-hours-of-use rating and a five-year warranty from date of service. To reduce installation costs, current MSP patrol cars are fitted with the new LED overhead light kits when there is a light failure.


Since the LED lights are maintenance free and eliminate the need for heavy-duty wiring and special switches, the MSP estimates this will ultimately result in a cost-savings. And this single red beacon isn’t the only lighting on the car. The MSP has had rear deck lights on the patrol cars for many years. These lights were originally red, but are presently a combination of both red and blue.


The cars also have flashing front-grill “wig-wag” red and blue lights and “wig-wag” headlights when the overhead “bubble” light is activated. (Reprinted from the MSP Facebook page)
 

Sigma Safety

Senior Member
Basing current schemes on 30 year old data with 70lb strobe bars that were 9" tall. Someone is trying to justify the gumball. Accelerates slower? Maybe they should only fill their gas tanks half full, then. That'll help their cars accelerate faster too. Do they have a max weight for their officers? Shaving 50 lbs off their officer's weight would help the car accelerate faster too. Don't carry any safety cones or spare tire in the trunk, either. After all, the sacrifice in safety will be more that worth it to shave 1/10 a sec of the 1/4mi time. What dumb reasoning.


What about light output and safety?
 

kadetklapp

Veteran Member
leftcoastmark said:
Basing current schemes on 30 year old data with 70lb strobe bars that were 9" tall. Someone is trying to justify the gumball. Accelerates slower? Maybe they should only fill their gas tanks half full, then. That'll help their cars accelerate faster too. Do they have a max weight for their officers? Shaving 50 lbs off their officer's weight would help the car accelerate faster too. Don't carry any safety cones or spare tire in the trunk, either. After all, the sacrifice in safety will be more that worth it to shave 1/10 a sec of the 1/4mi time. What dumb reasoning.

What about light output and safety?
The light is fine. The MSP cars have plenty of deck and dash warning to be sufficient in themselves, the beacon is simply a way to keep tradition and extra warning power.


I'm so tired of hearing people bitch about the light. It works PERFECTLY just as it did in the 1950s, but people are so hell bent on fixing things that aren't broke.


I'm peeved that they (MSP and Whelen) didn't try to keep the rotating mechanism in the retrofits by just using PAR36 LED heads, but they didn't ask what I thought...


It doesn't matter. The new Chargers don't have the lights because the roof won't support it. I imagine as the Crown Vics in the MSP fleet die, the "gumball" will too. It's sad, really.
 

badge22

Senior Member
1. Whelen is not located in Brighton, MI. - They keep trying to push this an a Michigan Made light. It's half Chicago, IL and half Chester, CT. and put together in MI.


2. The new Chargers are getting beacons. There is one near me.


3. Lightbars have takedown and alleys lights that are more reliable than the Unity Spotlights.


4. I fail to see how a $900 beacon is more economical than a $200 rotating beacon (which they probably get cheaper on a quantity bid). Even with replacing the lamps two to three times a year.


I would like to see a beacon with Sound Off Pinnacle technology in it. That would be a MORE Michigan made light. Or, just grow up and put a Pinnacle or Apex lightbar on the cars.


I liked the Spitfire beacons, but it's time to upgrade.
 

HILO

Forum Guru
The NBS Charger has a stronger roof support for the beacons.


With deck and grill/hlf, the MSP cars have plenty of light.


A lightbar, even a liberty or arenjet will provide a lot of drag compared to the beacon.


As far as takedowns and alley lights, if an agency doesn't need them, so be it.


MSP spends slit of time evaluating vehicles, lights, and other equipment. I have no doubts in their conclusions and practice.
 

ChargerLighting

Site Veteran
I have seen a couple new MSP Chargers WITH the Unity (roof) light, but, 2010 & older Chargers, no.


There is a Whelen distributor in Brighton that converted the lights to LED, but, as said, its' still a Unity light from Chicago with guts from Whelen in CT.


The LED version is OK but I thought the light output was fine also with normal 100W bulbs....especially for 20% of the LED upgrade cost.


Also they do have red/blue LEDs in the rear deck.
 

Abacus

Premium Member
"The department began using overhead convex-shaped light fixtures"


I liked this bit and started wondering whether convex shaped light fixtures were Domes or Lenses?
 

LRGJr72

Premium Member
Yeah, the new Chargers are getting them. Believe me when I say these LED beacons are brighter than anything I've ever seen. They would be sufficient without all the supplemental lighting. But I too wish they could have developed a rotating model, maybe something like a jumbo version of the mechanism used in the new FedSig Vision SLR pods. I also have complete confidence in the findings of the Michigan State Police Precision Driving Unit. These guys have been in the game of evaluations for a LONG time.


**these pics were found @ policecarwebsite.net

mich308.jpg

mich307.jpg

mich306.jpg
 

dmathieu

Premium Member
Abacus said:
"The department began using overhead convex-shaped light fixtures"

I liked this bit and started wondering whether convex shaped light fixtures were Domes or Lenses?
It mentioned 2 convex lenses, which these are, and 2 bulbs, which this has. 1940s would also be right for this light I wonder if this was the type of light.


Dan

$(KGrHqRHJBoE7yLOZpbWBO-KHkECsg~~60_12.jpg
 

SafetyLighting

Senior Member
So when are the "Stop" signs being upgraded?


I don't see any other lights on the front of that Charger.
 

Storm4200

Veteran Member
i think they look absolutely TERRIBLE!! :weird: The light output may be effective, but i hate the look of the old skool beacon. Maybe everyone else should start using LED retrofitted Twin Sonics.
 

ChargerLighting

Site Veteran
Might not look great, but it is effective. Look at the shape(s) of the Valor or SLR...ugly but does the job (just my opinion).


I think the only upgrade to the hood sign are LEDs instead of halogen.
 

dmathieu

Premium Member
Storm4200 said:
i think they look absolutely TERRIBLE!! :weird: The light output may be effective, but i hate the look of the old skool beacon. Maybe everyone else should start using LED retrofitted Twin Sonics.
What are you saying?! LOL


For us old vintage collectors, old school is the way to go!!!


Dan
 

unlisted

Gold Supporter
I really want to see a unity beacon fully populated with the guts from multiple Code 3 LS222 beacons..


C3-C_LSS222__74367_zoom.jpg


That, I would pay good money for! :cool: :cool:
 

Sigma Safety

Senior Member
kadetklapp said:
...
I'm so tired of hearing people bitch about the light. It works PERFECTLY just as it did in the 1950s, but people are so hell bent on fixing things that aren't broke.
The other way to look at it is that keeping with something old, just for the sake of keeping it because it's old, doesn't make sense either. If newer technology comes out to make life safer, why not take advantage of it? That's why we wear seatbelts, have airbags, moved to Glocks from revolvers, etc etc.


If they want to stay with a single rotating light on the roof, why not go for one of the new FedSig LED rotating beacons? Tons of warning power, a true rotating pattern - no downside!
 

KAdams327

Premium Member
MSP does NOT have a problem with people seeing them. People here see those cars long before they see any other emergency vehicle. While it does seem strange to only have the single beacon, it does the job and it does it well.
 

deputychief301

Senior Member
I have to agree with Badge22 comments, Michigan has a bad problem with paying high costs for


stuff they really don't need.I work for the State of Michigan and everything they use is leased


most of the time at a very high rate for the tax payers. As far Whelen in Brighton, its just a


distributor and the owner has deep pockets from having friends in Lansing that usually also


gets kick backs from the sellers of the product that the state buys.


After seeing many of these beacons in action I truely have to say the talons in the back


windows are brighter then the beacons


Jim Rogers


deputychief301
 
Last edited by a moderator:

plybeep68

Senior Member
Does anyone have any video of the Chargers with all the lights activated with the Unity/Whelen conversion?
 

mcpd2025

Veteran Member
They are ugly if you think about it, but they are also kinda cool. I think its awesome that they respect their tradition and heritage as a department while upgrading to the more modern LED's. It seems that a lot of police departments don't maintain traditions like the fire side does. I would have to agree that they probably get better gas mileage without the huge lightbar on the roof.


Makes me wonder why more departments don't go with slicktop units. With the higher output of modern LED lighting in a smaller package, I think its an idea whose time has come. Better mileage, lights are protected from elements and last longer, lights are protected from low branches or other obstruction and break less, lights are protected from vandalism/theft and you can have a lower profile vehicle when lights are off for more stealth in traffic or you can turn cruise lights on for more visibility.
 

Ipuvaepe

Senior Member
At the expense of significantly increased cost per lumen, decreased visibility, flashback (in a lot of installs), and of course the whole issue of making it so much easier to impersonate a LEO.


What ever happened to the combination of HAW and a throw light?
 

dusty

Member
mcpd2025 said:
They are ugly if you think about it, but they are also kinda cool. I think its awesome that they respect their tradition and heritage as a department while upgrading to the more modern LED's. It seems that a lot of police departments don't maintain traditions like the fire side does. I would have to agree that they probably get better gas mileage without the huge lightbar on the roof.

Makes me wonder why more departments don't go with slicktop units. With the higher output of modern LED lighting in a smaller package, I think its an idea whose time has come. Better mileage, lights are protected from elements and last longer, lights are protected from low branches or other obstruction and break less, lights are protected from vandalism/theft and you can have a lower profile vehicle when lights are off for more stealth in traffic or you can turn cruise lights on for more visibility.
Because such a decision would require a public official doing something that requires both "thought" and that's "different" and it'd be easier to pull teeth from a warthog.
 

mcpd2025

Veteran Member
dusty said:
Because such a decision would require a public official doing something that requires both "thought" and that's "different" and it'd be easier to pull teeth from a warthog.
You hit that one right on the nose...
 
Thing about the old Unitys was the distance they were visible. I'm talking literally miles on a straight, level road like some parts of I-75. I can remember seeing them for at least 3 miles, possibly more. I don't know if the LEDs will do that.


I know it varies by jurisdiction, but some places won't allow unmarked slick tops to make traffic stops. They have to be with a fully marked unit with roof lights.
 

EL1998P71

Senior Member
SafetyLighting said:
So when are the "Stop" signs being upgraded?

I don't see any other lights on the front of that Charger.
We upgraded them to LED like 2 years ago.


Michigan State Police Hood Sign | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


And below are photo's of the very first MSP charger to get the roof light.


The test track folks brought us a Slicktop to add the beacon to.


Michigan State Police | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Michigan State Police | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Michigan State Police | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Michigan State Police | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


When we start upfitting the next batch, I'll try to take a video or see if our inspector already has a video.
 

Storm4200

Veteran Member
well, the charger looks great, as does all of the LEDs. All that is, with the EXCEPTION of the ridiculous light on the roof. looks TERRIBLE :duh:
 

Ipuvaepe

Senior Member
It would look a lot better if they didn't use the big metal bottom, just the 1" metal bottom. Single beacons are great IMO, but the extra crap is just that, crap.


Oh and if you're going to end up making your own hailer, make it better since it'll be a reproduction anyway. Lengthen the bottom metal piece and put LED strip lights in there. Also, make sure you make the top of the hailer either reflective or opaque, or put another strip light there too :D
 

irsa76

Member
One thing I noticed. The orginal unit in the pursuit had the halogen rotator and you could clearly see the flashing on the street signs, sometimes a fair distance away. I've noticed the same thing at night,in rain, fog and dusty condtions with halogen rotators, LEDs are too tightly controlled to produce this glare which is useful for secondary, or incidental, warning. I do agree that the new LED beacon has plenty of punch though, I just think a combination of the halogen beacon and the LED secondary lights works very well.
 

Doug

Veteran Member
Storm4200 said:
well, the charger looks great, as does all of the LEDs. All that is, with the EXCEPTION of the ridiculous light on the roof. looks TERRIBLE :duh:
It's not about how it looks - it's about how it WORKS.
 

dmathieu

Premium Member
That single beacon is extremely effective. The LED upgrade is even better and brighter with a longer dwell time than the rotator.


Dan
 

Storm4200

Veteran Member
Doug said:
It's not about how it looks - it's about how it WORKS.
your gonna really tell me that THIS is more effective then a Liberty bar, or a Legend, or even a VISTA SL??


well, i would take a Liberty or a Legend over this ANY day!!

hnpca1813-vi.jpg
 

rlsllc

Member
I think the single spinner, or even the LED one, is retro and cool. It looks awesome on the Charger, as it did on the Crown Vic, since the Charger is retro and the Vic never really looked "modern", which I associate with the European styling like the Taurus or New Caprice.


Is it effective? You bet. I have travelled in the Great State of Michigan many times, and I can tell you, if that beacon is on, you will not miss it, day or night.


Is it as effective as a new LED full light bar? It depends on what you call effective. You can't miss the beacon, and there are some other lights (deck, headlamp wig wag, that cool hailer, etc) that give additional warning. I think that takedowns would be nice, maybe they could hide them in the base of the beacon somehow.


Don't get me wrong, I like lights, but I think that there is a lot of overkill anymore. The MSP has effective warning and a neat link to past tradition, and I think that they are cool for being different.


I like the LED twinsonic idea...I think you may be on to something. :thumbsup:


@storm4200, I'm not trying to change your mind, or insult you, you are intitiled to your opinion that it looks terrible, as I am intitled to think it looks cool. Same for anyone else. Agree, disagree, or agree to disagree. It is pointless to agrue opinions. To quote Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"
 

Storm4200

Veteran Member
rlsllc said:
I think the single spinner, or even the LED one, is retro and cool. It looks awesome on the Charger, as it did on the Crown Vic, since the Charger is retro and the Vic never really looked "modern", which I associate with the European styling like the Taurus or New Caprice.

Is it effective? You bet. I have travelled in the Great State of Michigan many times, and I can tell you, if that beacon is on, you will not miss it, day or night.


Is it as effective as a new LED full light bar? It depends on what you call effective. You can't miss the beacon, and there are some other lights (deck, headlamp wig wag, that cool hailer, etc) that give additional warning. I think that takedowns would be nice, maybe they could hide them in the base of the beacon somehow.


Don't get me wrong, I like lights, but I think that there is a lot of overkill anymore. The MSP has effective warning and a neat link to past tradition, and I think that they are cool for being different.


I like the LED twinsonic idea...I think you may be on to something. :thumbsup:


@storm4200, I'm not trying to change your mind, or insult you, you are intitiled to your opinion that it looks terrible, as I am intitled to think it looks cool. Same for anyone else. Agree, disagree, or agree to disagree. It is pointless to agrue opinions. To quote Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

oh I'm not offended at all! this is what this forum is for!! now, as for the LED Twinsonic....with 2 Vision SLR rotator pods...lol :undecided:
 

Storm4200

Veteran Member
and +1 on the fact that a lot of things are WAYYYY overkill nowadays. I truly agree that a lot of times, less is more. i just CANT get into the look of this. i respect the retro look and the tradition behind it. i just still hate it, lol. Oh well....thats just my opinion.
 

LRGJr72

Premium Member
Storm4200 said:
your gonna really tell me that THIS is more effective then a Liberty bar, or a Legend, or even a VISTA SL??
well, i would take a Liberty or a Legend over this ANY day!!
Have you seen the videos? There are plenty of links on this thread and throughout the site. Arguing ineffectiveness with this set up is ree'donkulous. You may not like the "fashion" of it, but this set up is VERY effective... also unique.. quickly identifiable (especially to those in Michigan)... and honors tradition.
 

Doug

Veteran Member
Storm4200 said:
your gonna really tell me that THIS is more effective then a Liberty bar, or a Legend, or even a VISTA SL??
well, i would take a Liberty or a Legend over this ANY day!!
Don't put words in my mouth. I said that it's not about how it looks ("Hey, this Legend would look sweet on my Yugo!"); it's about how it works ("Hey, this bar clears traffic like a snowplow moves snow!"). I didn't say that the beacon works any better, or less than, any bar.


And since you are using a contraction, the correct spelling would be you're (your is possessive - your Yugo, for example.)
 

Doug

Veteran Member
Storm4200 said:
and +1 on the fact that a lot of things are WAYYYY overkill nowadays. I truly agree that a lot of times, less is more. i just CANT get into the look of this. i respect the retro look and the tradition behind it. i just still hate it, lol. Oh well....thats just my opinion.
I agree that sometimes there is light overkill, and think that there could be potential for problems stemming from it (transient blindness due to too many - or too bright - lights, as well as confusion from flash patterns that are too fast and difficult to track, etc), and yes, sometimes less is, in fact, more (effective).


I never cared for the look of the Code 3 Force 4 LP bar - but it did put out some serious light, which, in my book, made it an effective bar. Even if I didn't care for the shape of it.


See what I'm sayin'?
 

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