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Gainesville police rolling out steady burn lights to increase visibility
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Lights, lights, burning bright, in the downtown streets of Gainesville’s night.

Blue lights, that is.

The Gainesville Police Department has been rolling out the use of steady burning lights for officers.

Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said the intention is to increase visibility and potentially deter crime.

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Gainesville Police Officer Nick Smith has the department's new new burn lights on his vehicle Friday, March 6, 2020, to increase visibility in downtown and other areas where people may be needed. - photo by Scott Rogers

“It’s something that we’ve been doing for some time now. We’ve kind of come out with it officially, especially with the creation of the new downtown and midtown unit,” Holbrook said. 

Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish added three officers to the community relations unit headed by Holbrook in 2019 to add a presence in downtown, midtown and the surrounding areas.

The burning lights, also called cruise lights, are a solid blue color with a lower intensity than that of the flashing emergency lights.

More agencies across the state and country are beginning to use these lights, including the Gwinnett County Police in February.

“The cruise lights are used to bring a level of comfort to the community that police officers are in the area and are there if you need us,” the Gwinnett County Police said in a post announcing the lights.

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Gainesville Police have installed new burn lights Friday, March 6, 2020, to increase their visibility in downtown and other areas where people may be needed. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said 50 vehicles for the sheriff’s office are equipped with these lights.

Holbrook said use of the lights is currently up to the officer’s discretion.

“Many times these officers are rolling up on hot calls where at the time they need to roll up dark. Given the time that they’re doing extra patrol or patrol in certain areas of town, we want to be visible. We want the community to see us, so it’s kind of up to (the officer’s) discretion as far when they’re utilizing them and how they’re utilizing them,” Holbrook said.

Both agencies stressed that drivers do not need to pull over unless they see the flashing lights.

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