Approval Needed to Use Emergency Lights and Sirens

Starting today, emergency vehicles -- like police cars -- need approval before turning on their lights or sirens.

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    Big changes are in effect today for emergency vehicles in the city of Brotherly Love. Instead of using their discretion, those operating emergency vehicles -- like police cars -- must first get permission to turn on their lights and sirens.

    Currently, emergency vehicle operators can decide when they want to flip the switch, activating their lights and sirens.

    "Leaving it totally to the discretion of officers for non-emergency calls to activate their lights and sirens is what we're trying to avoid," Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told NBC10 exclusively.

    Under the new policy, anyone operating an emergecy vehicle is required to request permission from police dispatch or a field supervisor before turning on their lights or sirens and ignoring normal traffic laws.

    Police are citing the number of officer-involved accidents as a reason for the change. Last year, the Philadelphia Police Department had 535 police vehicle accidents.

    "We wanna make sure that when people do respond in that fashion, it's a call where we need to respond and get their that quickly, and disobey traffic regulations and put the general public and ourselves at risk," said Ramsey.