Extreme Tactical Dynamics
Emergency Vehicle Light Knowledge Base

Police Lights from Extreme Tactical Dynamics

At Extreme Tactical Dynamics, we don’t just sell LED lights for police; we understand them. We know the particulars that make a light suitable for law enforcement, and we can help you choose the gear that meets your needs. Whether you just need affordable options, or you are curious about the history of police lighting in the United States, we can help. Here, you will learn about the history of police lights, popular warning light colors, examples of police lighting, and why you should choose Extreme Tactical Dynamics to fill your needs.

When cops are on their way to a call, the best way to alert everyone of their situation is to activate police lights. By turning on lights, cops are warning anyone in the area of their vehicle of an urgent situation. By being able to access the right of way, police can get where they need to be fast. Without the right gear, cops and other law enforcement would have difficulty performing tasks that keep neighborhoods safe.

History of Police Lights


Police departments and patrol cars began to pop up across the United States in the early 1800s. The first department was born in 1838 Boston. In 1845, New York City opened its first agency. This unit was followed shortly by the creation of multiple organizations across the country. This idea eventually caught on in every state, city, county, and locality across the US.

Emergency lights and audible devices are present in almost every cop car in history. But, the type of lights and sirens used today are a far cry from the bulky units utilized in the mid-1800s. Police gear that was once thick, massive, and drained batteries quickly has changed to lightweight devices that won’t leave cops stranded with a dead battery or need a lot of maintenance. The way police lights and sirens has changed has let cops spend less time messing with gear and more time protecting communities.

Popular Police Light Colors in the United States

The most popular police lighting used in the US is red and blue. Besides red and blue, many agencies across the US also use white light to offset their red and blue police lights. White and sometimes amber colors are referred to as optional light in emergency vehicle state laws.

No matter what type of lights a police officer has installed on their patrol or undercover vehicle, it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure the car is legal. To make sure your lights are legal in your state before you install them. Click here to find out if it is legal to use cop lights.

Red Warning Lights

Most police cars use some red lights. In the US, red forward facing lights are usually only allowed to be used on emergency vehicles. But, there are a few exceptions to this general rule. For example, in Iowa red emergency lights can be used on funeral hearses. In the state of Washington, red lighting is also allowed to be used on tow trucks, but only when the tow truck is not moving. Wisconsin allows tow trucks to use red lights too, but only when the vehicle is standing or near a highway while assisting a disabled vehicle. In California, almost all emergency vehicles are required to use at least one forward-facing red light. Besides being forward facing, the red light must also be a steady burn unit.

Blue Lights are Exclusive to First Responders

The color blue is a symbol of police, which is why almost every cop car in the US will use some blue lighting. Firefighters and paramedics may use blue lights on their vehicles too. The same way it would be unusual to see a cop car with just red lights, it would be odd to see the same vehicle with just blue lights as well. Almost all police vehicles will use a combination of red/blue lights on any vehicle in their fleet.

White is a Popular Optional Color for Police Lighting

White is the most popular optional color used for police lights. Rarely would white be the only color on a light bar or any other type of emergency light except for wigwags or fog lights. Red and blue light bars usually use white lighting for takedown and alley lights. When police use amber lights on their cruisers, state statutes often need amber light to be rear facing. Most traffic advisors installed on the rear of police cruisers only use yellow lights to direct traffic away from scenes.

Police Departments Dictate When Lights are Activated

People are often confused about why police activate lighting in some situations and not others. Department policy often controls the use of police lights in any given situation. States statutes can also dictate when police should activate their lights and sirens during a particular event. Other departments leave the decision of when to use lights and sirens up to officer discretion. Under officer discretion, the officer has to determine whether the use of warning lights or an audible siren would help or harm their response time. For instance, if an officer believes the use of his equipment will tip off a burglar in the midst of committing a crime, he may opt not to use his gear to increase his chances of catching the perp red-handed.

Common Police Lights Used Today

In the United States, most police vehicles have the following cop lights:


Full-size light bars are the perfect way to add 360-degrees of LED brightness. These lights are offered in split color combos and can include alley lights and takedown lights. The average full-size light bar is mounted on the roof of a vehicle and centered between the passenger and driver side door. Due to their heavy weight and length, most full-size light bars are installed permanently on the roof a patrol car or other agency vehicle.

Dash lights created with LEDs are perfect ways to move traffic. An LED dash light can be put in any vehicle with a cigarette lighter plug and suction cup brackets. When installed, a dash light will shine into vehicles, which allows drivers to get the attention they need on the road. Dash lights are usually relatively small in size and their position at the top of bottom of a windshield allows them to be activated without obscuring a driver’s view. Since this is an interior only emergency vehicle light, the use of LEDs ensures the inside car will not become hot with use because LEDs do not emit heat.

Surface Mount police lights add light where it’s needed. Since most of these light types are weatherproofed, it’s easy to add emergency vehicle lighting to the roof of your car, the bumper, and even the interior dash. Adding lights to the surface of your vehicle for intersection visibility or cage mounts is also easy with this type of lighting.

Without a traffic advisor on your vehicle, you will have to spare a team member to direct traffic at scenes. If you install an LED traffic advisor, you will be able to have more bodies working a scene. And let the traffic advisor direct traffic for you. When choosing a police traffic advisor for your fleet, you need to select a unit that is created with LEDs. We also offer dual color traffic advisors in our inventory. A dual color traffic advisor can create code or amber directional lighting with just the flip of a switch. Better yet, there is no cool-down time required, so police can turn their code lights to amber lights instantaneously.

Visor lights are an interior alternative to full-size light bars and perfect for undercover cop cars. With a stealthy light, police can remain unseen until they pop their lights on. Most visor LEDs are two-piece units that fit over the driver and passenger side of a vehicle.

Find out more about visor lights and undercover vehicles here.

Police Vehicle Lighting aroun the world

Types of Police Lights Available

When shopping for police lights, you need to know that there are many options on the market. There are also many ways to install police lighting including traditional mounts and customized emergency light set-ups. At Extreme Tactical Dynamics, we understand what police need and want from their lights and sirens. Our inventory is packed with all of the products mentioned above and much more.

Types of LED and strobe police light options include:

When deciding where and how to install police lights, check out Extreme Tactical Dynamics’ Police Lights Installation guides.

Shop for Police Lights with Leaders in the Industry

A simple search for police lights will deliver tons of options. It’s important to shop for emergency vehicle lighting with pros. Extreme Tactical Dynamics has spent almost a decade working with police and first responders to make cheap LED police lighting. Shop Extreme Tactical Dynamics 24/7 for the best price on lights and accessories.