Current trends indicate that saving money and improving community relations will continue to drive law enforcement policy decisions for the foreseeable future. Following this train of thought, vehicles that run on electricity instead of gasoline and operate at lower speeds conducive to personal interaction are good news for both public safety and the public.
Fortunately, there are several options available to agencies looking to take advantage of these innovative modes of transportation.
Global Electric Motorcars (GEM)
Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) manufactures battery-electric vehicles that look very much like golf carts. But these diminutive autos come in a variety of sizes and styles with many options to customize them to your agency's needs.
A Fargo, N.D.-based Chrysler company, GEM has more than 38,000 neighborhood electric vehicles on the road worldwide used by local, state, and national government agencies, as well as by individuals for residential neighborhood use.
With a top speed of 25 mph, GEM cars have a range of up to 30 miles on a charge. They are battery-electric, operate on a 72-volt battery system, and plug into a standard 110-volt outlet. GEM vehicles can be recharged anytime, anywhere a 110-volt outlet is available and recharge in approximately six to eight hours. A fast charger is also available that can fully charge any GEM passenger or utility vehicle in less than one hour. A charging port is installed in the vehicle and a special charging station can be placed at your police station or other location.
GEM produces six models: e2 two-passenger, e4 four-passenger, e6 six-passenger, eS two-passenger with a short-back bed, eL two-passenger with a long-back bed, and eL XD two-passenger extra duty with a long-back bed. Law enforcement-specific options include an LED lightbar and PA system, both from Whelen.
For increased performance, the GEM e6 and the GEM eL XD come equipped with a 7.0 horsepower motor. A 7.0 horsepower performance package can be added to the other models, which come standard with 5 horsepower engines.
GEM vehicles are low-speed vehicles that have many of the same safety features of regular cars such as three-point seat belts, automotive safety glass, and lights), but are much more economical in price and fuel consumption. The design offers 47 to 109 cubic feet of cab space, depending on vehicle model.
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More than 650 police and security agencies worldwide are using Segway products to patrol airports, downtown areas, transit stations, manufacturing facilities, shopping malls, and campuses. Because it only has two wheels and uses a gyroscope that senses body movement to steer and to balance the rider, the Segway is very maneuverable.
Segway PT is currently available in two police models. 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. An officer on shift taking a break can plug the PT in using a simple computer power cord, either on the officer's body or in a bag on the Segway. A complete cycle charge takes eight to 10 hours.
The Segway i2 has been developed to excel in speed, range, and maneuverability in varied environments. It comes standard with lithium-ion batteries for extended range of up to 24 miles on a single charge. Packages tailored to the needs of law enforcement and security are now available and additional accessories can be added for further customization.
When it comes to policing off-pavement and more challenging outdoor regions, the x2 Police has deeply treaded low-pressure tires and built-in comfort mats to navigate a variety of tough terrain comfortably.
In 2009 a brand new Segway devoted to law enforcement will debut. Accessories currently available in the police package will be integrated into the new vehicle, which will still be available in either an i2 or x2 version.
The new version—which still didn't have a name at presstime—will have very highly reflective panels; a larger, more ergonomic waterproof tactical front bag for storage; and more availability for departmental branding. But even with all these changes, the new Segway for police will still be light and portable at just 100 pounds. Even without breaking it down, one will fit in the back of a patrol car and many will fit in the back of a truck for transport to a large event.
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Relatively new to the market, the T3 Series electric stand-up vehicle (ESV) was developed from the ground up specifically for police officers, based on officer input.
Every T3 Series has standard features for law enforcement that include 1,000-foot visibility LED emergency lighting, vertically adjustable headlight, siren, and yelp horn.
The three-wheel vehicle is front-wheel drive; has rear hydraulic disc brakes; is capable of speeds up to 25 mph; has a range of 10 to 25 miles (four to 10 hours) depending on speed, rider weight, terrain, etc.; has a cargo capacity of 450 pounds; and can be accessorized with ALPR, MDVR, trailers, and crowd control options.
More than 1,000 T3 Series ESVs have been deployed at more than 400 law enforcement, security, and military agencies since it was launched in October 2006 at the IACP trade show.
It is being utilized for patrolling business districts, college and high school campuses, sporting and entertainment venues, airports, hospitals, military bases, factories, boardwalks, malls and retail centers, parades and other special events, and for parking enforcement.
For continued use, the T3 Series has two hot-swap batteries that can be changed out in less than one minute. Full-charged batteries can be swapped for the used batteries and the vehicle is instantly deployable again.
Although T3Motion is best known for its ESVs, at IACP in November T3 rolled out a four-wheel vehicle. Designed primarily for parking and event enforcement, T3's CT Series Micro Car has a top speed of 35 mph and a range of up to 75 miles on lithium-polymer batteries. It charges in about eight hours. The Micro Car will be available later this year.
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