- May 22nd, 2021, 11:47 pm#4949499
Eleven years ago, the two things I was pretty certain about was (1) Sony would come after you legally if you took a dime for using your Ecto at any event, and (2) the lights are illegal everywhere.
Over the years what I discovered was that no one cares about either (anymore). Sony has never contacted me and told me to stop doing an event or check to assure there was no "unjust enrichment", the legal term whether any money was exchanged or not. In regards to the lights, the absolute most I've ever had happen was learning The Werewolf one year during Comic-Con. We turned on the lights and siren while leaving the curb because everyone wanted a picture/video, etc. Traffic is at a crawl so I figured it wouldn't hurt anything. The SDPD officer who ran up to our window had different thoughts on the topic. It was a pleasant conversation filled with lots of "yes sir" and "we won't do it again."
The absolute best examples of how much no one cares about the lights were:
Sept 2010 - We drove Ernie Hudson to the 3G gallery event. At the final intersection we turned on lights and siren to arrive, then left them on while blocking a lane of traffic. Inconsiderate? Sure. 800 lb gorilla? Also, yes. LAPD drove by many times and said we've got to move or they'll have no choice but to ticket us. I totally get it. We did our 5 min of PR then slid into a nearby parking lot. Not one mention was made of the blue lights being on. Why? Probably because it's LA and they have way bigger problems than us, but also because it's pretty obviously not a cop car, even with the blue lights.
June 2011 - We had already established a friendship with author Ernie Cline some months prior. When Comic-Con came around it was a pleasant surprise that we ran into him on the street of Comic-Con while we were parked at some random spot. Ernie happened to pass by but said he couldn't talk; the crowds were so thick he was now late to get to the event he was a keynote speaker at. That event was at Horton Plaza, many blocks away. I knew there was no way a person on foot would make it there in time even under lighter conditions. We offered to give him a ride which he graciously accepted but the real surprise came from an SDPD officer directing traffic. It was a longshot and pretty ballsy to even ask, but I inquired about taking a shortcut through a side street that was roped off for city and service vehicles only. He shrugged in way that seemed to express "why not?" then twirled one hand in the air and said "turn em on!" as we were directed to take the shortcut.
Lights and siren for three blocks through a crowded downtown San Diego, that dumped us on the east side of Horton plaza about 200 feet from the door he needed to go to. ...because an SDPD officer said so.
This is the first time I've mentioned it here or anywhere, but Ernie posted it on his blog the next day. I will never forget that. Somehow I heard the voice of that kid from Die Hard 3 when he said "Look around. The cops are all into something. You could rob city hall." I had the lights and siren on and absolutely no one cared.
Over 11 years I never misused them ( other than that one time at the Werewolf ) but I do recall the lesson which is that everyone's just to used to seeing the Ghostbusters Ectmobile with blue lights that I suspect most law enforcement look right past it. One of my neighbors is a CHP detective and he could care less when I have the car over. It's never been a topic. Sometimes I actually think if the lights had been purple or green or some other color that it would have been jarring enough that someone might have stopped to ask a question or two, maybe even write a citation. ...but those blue lights? Everyone just sort of expects them on an Ecto.