Made in Our Hometown: Police Lights

    Avon, N.Y. -- Flashing police lights are not something any of us want to see in the rear-view mirror, but would it help to know the lights are made locally? Many of the police lights are manufactured at The Star Headlight & Lantern Co., Inc., based in Avon.

    Chris Jacobs, president and CEO, is the fifth generation of the Jacobs family to own the company. The Jacobs family started out making kerosene lanterns for the railroad in 1889. They still make that same style of lantern today, but use LED technology.

    The original company was in Rochester near the site of Frontier Field. It moved to Honeoye Falls in 1952 and then to Avon in 1998. Today, The Star Headlight & Lantern Co., Inc. employs 230 people.

    It makes hundreds of products including the lights and sirens you see on the cruisers of the Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Jacob said the LED technology uses less energy.

    "That is good for the police departments because they go through a lot of gas, so it's a good energy efficiency for them," he said.

    Vice President of Production Mike Mastin has been working at Star Headlights for 35 years.

    "Every place you go, you see it," he said. "You see it on TV. It's interesting when you see a movie and they have our light on police vehicles, people are grabbing our lanterns to go look at something."

    Mastin said reliability is key.

    "We feel the obligation to make a quality product because their life is at risk," he said.

    The company also makes the sound and the light that alarms at airport baggage carousels. Its product is in many major airports. It also makes the beacon lights on the Time Warner and Frontier service trucks.

    There is bound to be a complaint or two during the course of the company's 125 years. Jacobs said he occasionally hears this one from friends about those police light bars: "I just got pulled over by your lights the other day and I don't like your lights; You are making them a little too stealth these days."

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