The Batsignal was created by Commissioner Gordon after the Jokers attack on the police banquet. This was done so the police could get in touch with Batman. The signal was also destroyed on one occasion when a robot Harvey Bullock fell on the signal. It was later  rebuilt. In Batman : Mask of the Phantasm the police used it to try and capture Batman who had been framed for murder, however Batman knew of this and did not respond. 

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