Now this is a puzzling thing to me: having grown up in the States, it’s automatic that if you see a police car with its strobe lights on in your rearview mirror, you know that either something’s wrong or you’ve made a traffic violation and are screwed. The police never drove around town with their lights on, and used lights and sirens under discretions.
Fast forward to Taiwan: I do see some police cars around the streets of Taipei that don’t have their lights on, but almost EVERYONE, including scooter cops, drives their cruisers with the annoying strobe lights on constantly. What is the point of this? Are they trying to make people aware that they’re police officers? Aren’t the decals and black and white body paint sufficient enough?
I asked my relatives, and their (almost uniform) response is: “well, they turn the lights on because their shift is on and they’re working”. It seems to make sense initially, but if you think about it a little more the logic all falls apart. Think about it, if a cop rides a police vehicle, a public property, shouldn’t the vehicle be for official business only? So if you see a police car driving around with its strobe lights on, it means the officer is on shift - so the ones with the strobes turned OFF are NOT working. So what the heck are they doing, cruising around city streets conducting private business with governmental property?
So if a policeman is not on duty he’s allowed to cruise around town in public property and at the public’s expense?[/quote]
No, by ‘on call’ I mean that he has been given a dispatch to go check out some complaint or disturbance. In this case, he turns on his lights while he is in route to the possible crime scene. If it’s an emergency, he will turn on his siren as well.
The purpose of having cops on patrol is to deter crime by their physical presence, hence the uniform, high-vis paintwork and flashing lights.
It’s the job of detectives to investigate and catch criminals.
Think about it. If you’re getting mugged, raped, or murdered down an alley, do you want the cops to cruise by with lights flashing, likely scaring your assailant away? Or would you prefer them to keep a low profile so that they can catch the criminal making his/her getaway while your blood runs down the drain?
I’m originally from Hawaii. Police cars are equipped with a single blue light bobble on top of their cars. While on duty they are required to have the light lit with solid blue in order to show police presence. They are not allowed to have the light turning and flashing except in the event of an emergency. It’s simple and not obtrusive. Solid blue equals police presence. Flashing blue means get out of the way or pull over, you’re in trouble. Here in Taiwan the cops just blast away with the dual flashing red and blue lights all the time. How are we to know when there is a valid emergency or that they are just showing off with their disco lights? Very annoying.
This is exactly my point. Eventually everyone will just ignore the lights and these flash signals will lose all their meanings. Soon enough they’d have to blast the gawd damn sirens all the time and create massive noise pollution.
I actually witnessed the police arresting someone in my building the other day. Now who else out there has ever witnessed the police policing?
I have also followed two traffic police recently. One I was following on my bike to try and gauge exactly by how much he was speeding and I eventually pulled back when he was reaching 85 in a 50 zone, through traffic with no lights or siren on. I later found he had reached his destination at the side of the road where he parked up to manage a school crossing at home time.
Another was on a large BMW cruiser who was flitting between traffic from one lane to another like a Tai-ku on his scooter and then made a right turn through a red light and at no point ever indicated, or had lights on or a siren. I kinda wish I had the time to make another traffic video this time only on the police. Any other takers out there?
Cops didn’t use their lights to run red lights in your town? It must be the only one in the world. I saw cops drag racing each other on public roads where I’m from in Canada.
The cop lights here piss me off. They’re at eye-level and they blind me every time I walk down the alleys at night. But because I cover my eyes (and my face) so I can see, I’ve actually had one stop me as if I were acting suspicious.
I also hate the morons (pretty much every driver on Taiwan’s roads) who drive with high beams on in the city. Worse still is the new trend in LED headlights on cars and scooters, you can’t see a goddamned thing when you’re walking. I’m tempted to buy and carry an LED flashlight to aim at drivers eyes to make the point, or at least, make myself able to see.
Or does anyone know where to by a concave handheld mirror?
Cops didn’t use their lights to run red lights in your town? It must be the only one in the world. I saw cops drag racing each other on public roads where I’m from in Canada.[/quote]
I saw this happen a couple of times back in the Bay Area, but never where I’m from. So yes, there are dick cops everywhere - I’m not denying that. I and people I know have gotten ridiculous tickets before, like going 70mph in a 65mph or failure to move vehicle 1/10th of a mile after 60 hrs (CA law says 72 but I got ticketed at 60).
The reason I bring this up is because I know the strobe lights are optional, since I’ve seen cop cars drive with and without them on in Taipei - and I don’t think ON = on call because I’ve seen scooter cops and cruisers give tickets with their lights off. And in Taipei where a deer jumping over the hood of a police car in some small town in Iowa can make the news, you’d imagine an off-duty cop giving people tickets would make headlines on national news.
And there was also that one case on the news where the vice chief (I think??) in the Taichung City precinct went out and cruised around in a heavy-duty police-issue BMW motorcycle - when they showed footage on the news he also had those two little rear-mounted strobe lights on.