by Jeff Britton, PCI #1205
Central Point (OR) Police Department
The Guardian Angel personal safety lighting system is manufactured by 425 Inc., a personal safety device company founded in 2010 and headquartered in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. According to a press release, the Guardian Angel product line represents the industry’s first small, wearable lighted device designed to improve personal safety – both in the workplace and out.
The Guardian Angel, which can be mounted in a variety of ways, uses a rechargeable battery that has about 90 hours of continuous use. The system is equipped with a LED battery life indicator that shows green when the light has good power, orange when about three hours remain, and red when there is about 45 minutes of run time remaining.
The Guardian Angel is completely customizable to fit whatever lighting color is needed to comply with your department policy, using combinations of red, blue, white, yellow, green, and/or orange LED lights. The light has a front single white utility light that would be used for traffic visibility but is not intended for night illumination. The top of the system has several lighting options, including 360 degrees of flashing lights, rear only, front only, pattern changes and a power save mode that dims the lights and reduces battery power. The lights are 900 lumens on high power, which is amazing for such a small system. The light comes with an epaulette clip that is easily removed with two screws. This clip allows you to run the Guardian Angel on your uniform for great visibility when you are off the bike for extra safety in low light situations. With a weight of 5.2 oz., it is hardly noticeable when worn on your uniform. Other, optional mounting systems include a magnet mount, a belt clip, and a handlebar clip.
When you unpack the Guardian Angel, you will notice that this is not your normal emergency light. Law enforcement bicycle safety lighting are usually characterized by heavy water bottle battery packs, cords, plugs, zip ties, and limited run times. The LED lights I use are bright and work well, but they are bulky and stick out off the handlebars, which usually results in a bracket replacement several times a year.
The Guardian Angel is about the size of a deck of cards. The light itself has a self-contained battery that uses a plug-in wall socket or USB port charger so a large water bottle battery is not needed. The Guardian Angel is encased in a water-resistant rubber housing that looks rugged. We bike officers are tough on our equipment, so this is a great feature.
I attached the Guardian Angel to my handlebars with the supplied handlebar mount. The mount is a rubberized mount that fit easily on my 31.8 handlebars. Once it was attached, I ran the bike down stairs, up curbs, and anywhere else that might have jarred the light loose. I even did some bike dismounts with the bike landing hard, without any damage to or issues with the light. At the end of my shift, however, while taking the light off my handlebars, the rubber strap broke. I would like to see the strap be a little thicker or better made to avoid this issue. [Manufacturer’s note: since this unit was provided to Jeff Britton for testing, the strap has been replaced with one constructed of heavier-duty rubber that has proven more durable.]
I first went out on night patrol and was able to easily make traffic stops and get the violators’ attention with the lights. The 900 lumen lights and flash patterns worked well. I liked using the 360-degree set up so that I could be seen from all directions while off the bike. The lights were red, blue, and white. The white flashed up and to the sides with a bright piercing flash. I tried the lights in the daytime and still was able to see the lights well, but I think it would take a little more work and a whistle to get the attention a traffic violator; but this would be the case with most bike patrol lighting systems. Heck, some violators don’t even notice my patrol car lights!
The light is a single set up, meaning you still have to run a separate red flashing light on the rear of your patrol bike to be legal. Although, if you were to purchase two Guardian lights, you could use the second light on rear flash only with red lights and turn on the 360-degree pattern when needed.
I also tried the supplied epaulette clip attached to my right shoulder. I liked the light while off the bike and contacting a violator in traffic because it added just that little extra visibility needed when in traffic. I found it a bit distracting on the bright mode so I had to hit the power save mode to tone the lumens down. While riding the bike, however, I could feel the light bounce around on my epaulette and I couldn’t get used to it. I think the epaulette light would be better for a foot patrol use or directing traffic.
I contacted Chad Stillman of 425 Inc., (Chad is also a police officer in Racine, Wisconsin), who told me that the Guardian Angel sells for $149.99 for IPMBA members. With most lighting systems going for $300 and sometimes more, I think this is the light with which I will be outfitting the rest of our patrol bikes.
Jeff is a 24 year veteran with the Central Point Police Department (OR). He has been a member of the bike patrol team since 2004. He was certified as an IPMBA Instructor in 2010. Jeff loves downhill and cross-country riding in Southern Oregon, Lake Tahoe and Whistler, BC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This review appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of IPMBA News.