Friday, February 27, 2009

The Rumbler

Have you heard/felt the Rumbler siren? We’re testing it out on seven police cars right now. I tried it out last week, and it definitely will make you sit up and take notice. This is an article from our monthly Informant newsletter (you can see the whole thing at that explains it well:

The new Rumbler siren can alert the most distracted, inattentive drivers that police are coming and notify them to get out of the way. Rumbler manufacturer Federal Signal says the system has “the distinct advantage of penetrating and shaking solid materials allowing vehicle operators and nearby pedestrians to FEEL the sound waves, and perhaps even see their effects through a shaking rearview mirror.”
Captain Eric Winebrenner, Commander of Fleet Operations, said the Rumbler is similar to the low, vibrating tones one can hear and feel from cars with very loud radios and pumped up basses. One car in each of the city’s six patrol divisions began testing the Rumbler in January, as well one in the Vehicular Crimes Section.
Captain Winebrenner said the department wants to see if the Rumbler will be more effective at causing people to yield to police, thus reducing crashes at intersections and speeding response times.
“It’s been a problem – with cell phones and radios, people can’t hear the siren coming,” Captain Winebrenner said.
Vehicular Crimes Section Officer Bill Johnson was the first KCPD officer to try the Rumbler when the department got its first test system in July 2008. He said he likes it so much, that when his car was in the shop for a week and he had to drive another without the Rumbler, he felt at a loss.
“It drove me crazy not having it,” he said.
The system works by producing a lower-pitched siren overall and mounting two subwoofers to the police car’s frame, just in front of the front tires. Police turn on the rumbling at will.
Officer Johnson said police don’t feel anything driving the car, but those around the car do.
“It really makes a difference,” he said. “When you’re going down the road you can see people getting out of the way three blocks ahead of you in broad daylight. Lights are effective at night, but not as much in the day … And the sound of sirens in the urban core is just like background noise.”
Federal Signal says in its product literature that the Rumbler is “ideal” for urban settings because it stands out from regular city noise. Spokesman John Segvich said it’s already in use by more than 200 police and sheriff’s departments in America, including St. Louis, Mo.; Washington, D.C.; Omaha, Neb.; Broward County, Fla.; Galveston, Texas; and smaller cities like Salina, Kan.
Captain Winebrenner said the Rumbler test will go on until April, at which point officers driving the cars with Rumblers will report on how well they think they work. Commanders also will consider the Rumbler’s cost, which is just over $400 per car. If all those factors work out, a Rumbler may be coming to a crime scene near you.

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