With only two wheels and a gyroscope balance system, Segway's Personal Transporter (PT) was a hard sell for some as a viable patrol vehicle. But it's certainly caught on in the last few years. The PT is now available in two police models—i2 Police and x2 Police—that provide law enforcement with an easy way to navigate crowded walkways and even rough terrain such as parklands.
"At first I thought of it as a toy, but it's a tool," says Patrolman First Class Jerome Armijo of the Albuquerque Police Department. "It helps you get to the calls, knocks down dispatch time, and makes you much more accessible to people."
Armijo has found that his Segway also provides easy access to fleeing criminals. He recently used his "tool" to round up a subject with warrants out for his arrest.
"We paralleled him down another street and we let him get tired. We were completely rested and I was able to box him in and apprehend him," says Armijo.
In fact, Segway PTs are integral to catching the bad guy more often than you might think. Officer Elliot Littleton of Chicago PD has his own story of how a Segway gave him a much needed edge when it counted. "Around Labor Day, three years ago, a guy hit another guy with a pipe and took off running," he says. "I was on a Segway x2 and came flying down the hallway and found him hiding in a corner. I really shocked him. Other officers came running around the corner all tired, and I wasn't."
Segway PTs are also beneficial for interacting with everyday citizens. Because riders stand an additional eight inches off of the ground, they have an improved perspective on sidewalks and streets and inside buildings, and are also more visible and approachable in community policing situations. Sgt. Richard Azarrito of the Bridgeport (Conn.) Police Department says these advantages have greatly improved his ability to patrol.
"Being in charge of the downtown area, the Segway allows us to cover a larger area faster," says Azarrito. "And since we have a lot of foot traffic during business hours downtown, we can do the meet and greet, making us more visible and giving downtown a more police protected feeling."
Now that Segway offers the rugged x2 Police, parks are as easy to patrol as sidewalks. Deeply treaded low-pressure tires and built-in comfort mats provide the extra strength and energy needed to cover a variety of tough terrain, including grass, sand, rocks, and gravel.
Both the i2 Police and x2 Police can travel at up to 12.5 mph and run on rechargeable batteries. Batteries can be recharged by utilizing any 90- to 260-volt and 50- to 60-Hz AC outlet. A complete cycle charge will take eight to 10 hours, which Segway says costs about as much as a newspaper.
Segway's Website even allows agencies to evaluate the cost and energy efficiency of running Segways as part of their fleet by using a productivity calculator. The company also works with agencies to help secure grants to fund purchases.
Officers who use Segway PTs for frequent patrols love the mobility they afford. "It makes the job more fun, to be honest," says Chicago PD's Officer Littleton. "It's like walking or running. Now it's like an extension of me."