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N.M. police equip squad cars with 4-ft. raised warning lights

By Christopher Sanchez
Albuquerque Tribune

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Albuquerque Police Department is equipping some of its vehicles with emergency lights that rise about 4 feet above the unit’s roof, warning drivers of freeway collisions.

Police Chief Ray Schultz said 10 service aide vehicles will be equipped with the Z-lift light bars, which cost about $4,000 each.

The Z-lift comes a little more than a week after a large truck struck a police vehicle, slamming the patrol car into Officer Jeff Abernathy as he cited a driver on I-40 near Sixth Street Northwest.

Abernathy suffered serious injuries, including broken bones and a fractured skull. He is awaiting surgery on his legs and should return to work within six months, Schultz said.

The department started looking into the Z-lift about six months ago, Schultz said. There is no connection with last week’s collision, he said.

With the flip of a switch, the Zlift elevates the emergency lights by about 4 feet. An officer can rotate the lights 180 degrees. On the back of each extension, it states “Slow” and has illuminated arrows to direct traffic.

When the lights are elevated, drivers will know it means there’s an accident ahead, Mayor Martin Chavez said. “That way, we can make sure our officers are safe,” and the city can protect commuters as well, he said.

Eventually, the department wants to equip all of its 20 service aide vehicles, Schultz said.

Copyright 2007 Albuquerque Tribune