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DPS announces possibility of Segway patrol

Submitted by KenDrell Collins on November 6, 2013 – 11:27 amNo Comment

Photo by KenDrell Collins

“That is so cool. Look at that,” said a lady, as she watched a university police officer circle around her on a Segway.

In an effort to make student and faculty protection more efficient, UALR’s Department of Public Safety is weighing the idea of implementing a Segway patrol.

Lieutenant Johnny Smith and patrolman Justin Davison took a ride on the two-wheeled machines on Friday, Nov. 1.  A local company called Segway of Arkansas loaned the Segways to the DPS so that officers will be prepared to ride them next year, when DPS is expected to get a few of their own.

The two Segways, the i2 patroller and the x2 patroller, are all-electric machines that can reach speeds of 12 miles per hour. That’s fast enough to catch a criminal who’s on foot, according to Smith.  He said the machines are priced at about $6,500 and $7,500, respectively.

Each comes with a watch that is used to power the Segway on or off and even lock it. Without the watch, it cannot be operated.

“Once it’s balanced you don’t have to worry about anything, it balances itself once you step on,” said Smith.

In the event that an officer forgets to lock the Segway, a thief could only use it until the battery dies. After that, the machine will not function without the watch. Its lithium-ion battery can withstand 24 miles of riding before it needs recharging.

The Segways will allow officers to maneuver quickly into places that cars cannot. Officers need only to lean forward, in order for it to move faster, no pedal is needed.

“Let’s say we get a call right now in lot 5, versus a patrol car;  I’d have to go though a gate, wait until the gate raises,” Smith said.

On the other hand, the Segways allow easy movement between vehicles. “We can spot things easily,” Smith said. “We can communicate with people easily.”

“The advantage of this over the bike though, is you can’t ride the bike inside the building,” Davison said. “We can actually take these inside the building and actually do patrols; or if someone decided to try and run or something, we would be able to keep up with them on this.”

Nevertheless, Davison said he still loves the bike patrol too because it allows him to get exercise.  “[The Segway] just gives us another tool to be able to do community-oriented policing,” he said.

Photo by KenDrell Collins

Both patrols appear to make the officers more approachable. Students stopped and talked to the officers as they strolled around the DSC on Friday morning.

It only takes about 20 minutes to learn to ride the Segways, said Smith, and that’s if he or she is highly uncomfortable. Officer Davison learned to ride in less than 10 minutes.

On Nov. 13, students may have an opportunity to give the Segways a spin at the grand opening celebration of the new DPS Substation in Stabler hall.  The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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