Campton Hills Police receives donation of personal lighting systems to improve officer safety

Campton Hills police officers are now able to see better when out in the community at night – along with being safer because they are more visible – as a result of the Spirit of Blue Foundation’s recent donation of 10 personal lighting systems to the department.

The Oregon-based Spirit of Blue Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the enhancement of officer safety and vitality throughout the law enforcement community by promoting public awareness for their protection and fulfilling safety equipment and training needs. In April, the organization formally presented the donation to the Campton Hills Police Department.

Campton Hills Police Chief Steven Millar said the personal lighting systems are worn on an officer’s shoulder and can be used as a flashlight on traffic stops, which keeps the officer’s hands free.

“Being that Campton Hills has a Dark Sky Initiative to block out light pollution, most streets in Campton Hills are very dark,” Millar said. “Add the fact that most of these dark streets are only two lane roadways (one for each direction) with high speed limits, officer safety is very important to me. Officer visibility is not very high due to the dark uniforms that they wear. This device has very bright lights and lights up much like a light bar on a squad car and allow drivers to be more aware of the officer’s presence.”

Millar also noted that because Campton Hills does not levy for property taxes, purchasing items like the personal lighting systems is difficult. The foundation awarded the department a $1,065 grant for the purchase of the personal lighting systems.

“Thanks to the Spirit of Blue Foundation and their donation, these Guardian Angel devices will keep my officers safe,” he said.

The Spirit of Blue Foundation purchased the lighting systems on the behalf of the department. Ryan Smith, executive director of the Spirit of Blue Foundation, noted the lighting systems are extremely versatile.

“It can be worn on a vest strap or a backpack and there are mounting options for bicycles and other things,” Smith said.

The Campton Hills Police Department had reached out to the foundation about the need for the personal lighting systems. Last year, the foundation received upwards of 200 applications.

“We were only able to award grants to 41 police departments,” Smith said.

The foundation’s advisory council tested four of the personal lighting systems and recommended the foundation purchase the lighting systems for the Campton Hills Police Department.

“The number one reason we heard from our field testers was that in many situations they encountered, using this light allowed them to see in the dark without holding a flashlight in their hands, so both of their hands remain free, which is kind of a big deal,” Smith said. “All it takes is holding a flashlight or a ticket book and all of a sudden, you don’t have your hands to do other things that you might have to do in a moment’s notice.”

Smith also noted the personal lighting systems provide additional visibility for an officer.

“There’s a lot of officers who are struck on the side of the road every year,” he said. “It’s really easy to tell where the car is, but when the officer is out of the car, people don’t know where they are and this is a good way to identify when they are out of the car and when they’re moving so that people can give them space.”

Smith is proud of the impact the foundation has made.

“First and foremost, we’re seeing lives saved every year with equipment that we’ve put out,” he said. “That’s a really good feeling. That’s first and foremost why we do this and what’s most meaningful.”

And it pleases him if a police officer’s morale is boosted because of the grant.

“They can’t help but feel like people care about them and are concerned about their safety when they get a grant like this,” Smith said.