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Ask a Trooper: Emergency lights and no emergency?

Question: Recently, I pulled over to the side of the road for a trooper who was coming up fast behind me.

The red lights were on and I could hear the siren. After he passed, I could see way up ahead that he turned his lights off (and siren) 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)?

 Answer: 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 canceled 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 me and another trooper several years ago.

We were just stopping for dinner before our evening got any busier, as it was snowing.

We received a call about 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.

Whomever was in the vehicle got out and left, as is often the case in the winter. We decided to go into the nearest cafe and quick have our dinner then.

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 us being able to explain what happened.

Everyone looked at us, and then they started minding their own business.

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 most often, it’s not what it seems.

SGT. CURT S. MOWERS is with the Minnesota State Patrol