PowerFlare Safety Beacon Review

Chemical-based road flares are going by the wayside, yielding to LED lighting technology and the many options available with the PowerFlare line of safety beacons.

IMG_7062Emergency responders have good reason to move away from potassium perchlorate and other substances used in conventional pyrotechnic safety flares – not the least of which is the PowerFlare will not set anything on fire.  After recently running into Tricia Callahan, PowerFlare’s VP of sales, at the National Homeland Security Conference, I was a more than curious about her product.  She sent me a sample beacon so I could decide for myself whether I ever wanted to light another road flare again.  Full disclosure: Tricia didn’t have much work to do – when I was a rookie cop I ruined a new pair of uniform pants after some hot flare slag went flying and burned holes in the fabric.

PowerFlares come with many options – including a rechargeable version.  The standard power option is the single 3V CR123A lithium battery, making for a good shelf life.  Agencies and individuals can choose between many exterior “shell” colors as well as many lighting colors.  All models are equipped with a full range of lighting patterns, from rapid strobes, to steady-on, and in several levels of brightness.  The lights are LED, making them efficient, but I was worried about brightness and the distance from which they would be visible.  That didn’t appear to be an issue after a nighttime test, however, with the doughnut-sized lighting puck providing brilliant light – at least with the red LED version I was provided.

The lights appear well made, and equally tough.  They’re not light, so they will stay in place, and the weight gives them a rugged feel.  Mine came with an optional magnet, which allows for so many more mounting options that it should be universal.  For example, they can quickly adhere to a vehicle or temporary command post.  I’m not sure I could even see myself ordering a non-magnetic version.  I was so impressed by it that my evaluation of the PowerFlare began with me sticking it to any metal object I could find around the office.

Storage and deployment packaging for the PowerFlare is not short of options either.  From hard cases and bags, to the “bucket of beacons” with 24 or 36 units inside, there are almost too many options to choose from.  They’ve also thought of usability options too, with a traffic cone adapter that elevates the beacon above the roadway (though in my evaluation I seemed to prefer the way the light shines on the roadway surface when its on the ground).

Overall, the PowerFlare is a huge improvement over road flares for more reasons than I can count.  They are safe, waterproof, easy to carry, much easier to deploy, and the available options make them a no-brainer for emergency managers and first responders.  The only downside is that they could grow legs and walk away if left unattended in certain areas, but that’s true of any equipment of value or interest that is used in the field.

Let me know if you use PowerFlares or if you plan to – I’d love to hear what other people think about them.

Culture Change and Digital Technology: The NYPD under Commissioner William Bratton, 2014-2016

An insightful look into police use of digital technology – Big thanks to Susan Crawford for allowing me to be a part of it!

Culture Change and Digital Technology: The NYPD under Commissioner William Bratton, 2014-2016

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Letter: Recent editorial cartoon fuels divisive agenda

You lost all credibility in choosing to publish the editorial cartoon on Sunday, Nov. 8. Pushing the black lives matter vitriol only serves to further an agenda of racial divide on which people like Singer make their living. The cartoon not only suggests, wrongly, that the police target blacks, but that the officers who keep our communities safe are not themselves a diverse group of all backgrounds. In fact, so is the group of officers who have been killed while serving the neighborhoods that need every hand they can get to curb violence: largely neighborhoods of color.

The cartoonist and others would do well to take a post in these very communities where there are pervasive problems with crime and violence. Where black lives seem not to matter to other black lives. How cute that you include a graphic that lists a handful of alleged victims of police brutality and deaths in police custody which race-baiters have used to create a picture of a police-led war on minority communities. The upsetting reality is that the names of young minority lives lost at the hands of members of their very own neighborhoods and the names of police officers murdered by people of all colors are far too many for me to list with any chance of seeing this letter published. You should be ashamed.

Paul Grattan Jr.

Letter as published in the Times Herald Record, November 14, 2015

Letter: Recent editorial cartoon fuels divisive agenda

A thought on the nobility of policing

We are rightly critical of journalists and members of the public who misrepresent the work that we do as police officers.

Do we not therefore owe it to ourselves to be equally critical of fellow police officers who, by their actions, misrepresent the work we do?

Internal integrity is just as important as controlling misinformation. 

Coincidence?

Sometimes you come across the damnedest coincidence.  Today while riding the train I ran into a young lady who, several years ago while at college, had a frightening accident.  While biking down a steep hill, she rounded a curve and crashed head-on into a man riding a golf cart up the same side of the road.  That’s right, a guy in a golf cart.  She went flying, landed on her head, and was knocked unconscious.  She suffered a large cut to her head and lost most of her front teeth – in addition to sustaining a concussion (I’m not exactly sure what that is, but think it’s like an accident-hangover).  Her teeth were replaced with some sort of implant/veneer things.  They look fine.  Anyway, when she returned to her college campus she had trouble getting around from building to building – something to do with the post-surgery head pain that became worse as she walked.  So what did the school do to help her?  They gave her a golf cart.

That’s awesome.  There’s nothing else to the story – it’s just funny. No?  I think so.

How many Silver Alerts does a man need?

Don’t let previous blog posts or commentary about the in-laws fool you, I love old folks just as much as the next guy.  They’re like cute, lovable, excessively wrinkly babies – except they need a special lift to get into bed.

And just like kids, they wander.  I don’t mind looking for them either.  But every time I drive through New Jersey I see the same damn Silver Alert for this missing old fart.  How many times do we have to look for the same gray 1993 Pontiac before someone just hides the keys from this coffin-dodger?  I mean c’mon – it seems like each time they wrangle him and bring him back home he just jumps in his car again and heads for the Jersey Turnpike.  Stop putting out the all-points bulletin. The man likes to step out – who are we to stop him?

They have Amber Alerts for kids – no argument here.  But creepy men in vans are not scooping up geezers from playgrounds.  So can we please do without the state-wide manhunt?  I should think if this old bag made it to the century mark without incident that we could probably look the other way on his midnight joyrides.  If you must restrict him, just disconnect the battery to his car –  at least you’d find him napping with his head on the horn in the comfort of his own garage rather than in a Denny’s parking lot in Delaware.

I’ll tell you right now – if I see this guy out and about I’m pulling up next to him, rolling down the window, and shouting “rock on you old blue-hair you!”  I think four generations on God’s green earth earns you the right to take to the highway without looking back.