Police in Columbia have a new tool for fighting crime. It's not only changing the way they patrol, but it is also helping build relationships with citizens.
The city's four new Segways will allow officers to cover more ground more quickly in crime-prone areas. With two wheels moving at a top speed of 12 mph, the Segways give police versatility on and off the roads.
"We do foot patrols in our higher crime areas, and the Segway helps us speed up those patrols and cover a lot more ground in a shorter amount of time," said Sgt. Tony Gray.
The Segways were paid for through the Tennessee Office of Justice Targeted Community Crime Reduction Grant.
"Basically, this grant covers three areas - rehabilitation, offender intervention and enforcement. This tool will be used for enforcement. Four of them were purchased for $31,000 to be used right here in Columbia," Gray said.
The devices are 100 percent electric, which means savings on fuel costs as well as outlasting and outrunning suspects.
"We know that humans can sprint 12.5 mph, but not many can sustain that for 24 miles, which is what we can get off one charge," Gray said.
The roving patrol officers said the Segways are also bringing the community together, because more citizens now approach the officers with information and questions.
"We are definitely more approachable with the Segway. In a car, we are riding by at 25 or 30 mph, usually with the windows up, listening to the police radio for any kind of traffic," Gray said.
Officers also said the Segways classify as emergency vehicles, so drivers do need to obey the Move Over law for officers riding a Segway.
"The Segways are equipped with flashing emergency lights. These do not have sirens on them, but we do plan to use a whistle to issue an audible alert if we have to," Gray said.
The Segways have been patrolling Columbia Street for only three weeks, but the number of crimes are already down in some hot spots.
While the Segways haven't made their way to the Metro Nashville Police Department yet, they are being used by officers in Franklin.
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Tuesday, May 21 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-22 00:39:52 GMT
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