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Threat Detected: Can the Whistler CR90 Whistle Fast Enough? Maybe.

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Stalker Radar Dual unit press photo

A Stalker Radar unit commonly found in police cruisers. According to a gracious law enforcement source, who shall remain anonymous, these typically have a “stealth mode” that allows the officer to only fire the radar beam at you when it’s already too late to slow down without it being obvious you’re speeding. (Photo courtesy Stalker Radar/www.stalkerradar.com)

I recently talked with a friend of mine who is in law enforcement regarding our Whistler CR90 Laser Radar Detector and learned that the more cunning cops out there on the road still have an ace up their sleeve. Can the Whistler whistle fast enough to save me from a ticket?

In a word, no. Or at least not likely.

Most police in my area run Stalker Radar units like the one pictured above. Some have dual units like this one, with the ability to fire a radar beam out both the front and rear windows, while others have a single unit mounted in the windshield.

“If they just leave the thing running constantly, then yeah, you’re going to get alerted about it in plenty of time to slow down,” said my law enforcement friend, who shall remain anonymous.

“But,” he added, “these radars have the ability to be held back, so if the officer is smart, he’ll use that feature and only shoot a radar beam when you’re relatively close.”

I know from my early experience with the Whistler CR90 that its “eye” will pick up radar emissions well before my eyes can spot the police cruiser firing them. But especially in the nighttime hours when I had that first awkward experience with the Whistler’s default alert, the strategy described by my law enforcement source would prove detrimental to a speeder’s license points and insurance rates.

Say you’re trucking along at 60 in a 55. You don’t normally speed, but you worked late, and the road is dark and deserted because everybody’s already home and in bed — a scenario that admittedly happens to me a lot at my newspaper gig. You figure there’s nothing to worry about because you’ve got your “bird dog” on the dashboard keeping a watchful eye out for any John Laws who might want to impede your progress.

Out of nowhere, you hear the Whistler start talking and making its warning chirp for Ka band radar. Before you can even think to slow down, the blue lights of a Crown Vic Police Interceptor are all over your back bumper.

According to my anonymous source, it could happen if the radar unit’s stealth mode is utilized.

“Basically, if the officer uses that mode properly, it gives you just about enough warning to say, ‘Oh shit, they got me,” he said.

Moral of the story: Don’t think a radar detector — even one as full-featured as our Whistler CR90 tester — is going to save you every time. In my experiences so far, I’ve only run across one police cruiser I suspected of using that stealth mode, while all others have set the Whistler to whistlin’ well before I made visual I.D. of any cruisers on the horizon. Perhaps most officers are too preoccupied with other things — like driving, maybe? — to make full use of their radar units’ stealth capabilities. Regardless, if you’re not prepared to pay the fine, don’t do the crime.

Disclosure: Whistler provided the radar detector for testing purposes.

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