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Pamela Lehman
The Allentown Morning Call

ALLENTOWN, Penn. - As Lehigh University officers sailed across the sidewalk on purring electric scooters, a man hung his head out the window of a passing pickup truck and pointed his finger: "Dude, check it out!" he hooted. "How cool is that?"
That's exactly the reaction campus police are hoping the department's new Segways and three-wheel scooters will evoke with students, staff and visitors. Officers debuted two new Segways and a T3 Motion scooter during the Dalai Lama's visit in July and the vehicles will be used to patrol all areas of the campus.
Lehigh police may be one of the first departments in the Lehigh Valley to add the battery-powered vehicles to their fleet, something other departments should consider in light of high fuel costs, Chief Edward Shupp said Wednesday.
"We're going to be able to cover more areas in less time and the Segways are something people love to stop and check out," he said. "When we roll by in a police car, we're not often seeing people wave you down to stop.
"On the Segways, we get stopped all the time and it starts a conversation going," he said.
Indeed, within seconds of officers rolling the vehicles down Morton Street, people gathered around to ask how fast they go (about 12 mph), how much they cost ($6,000 for the two-wheel Segway and $9,000 for the three-wheel Motion) and how difficult they are to use (officers said they don't take long to learn, but were surprised at how sore it made their muscles at first to keep the Segway balanced).
Lehigh seniors Jordan Smith and Corey Luthringer grinned when they saw the scooters zip around a nearby shopping plaza.
"Hey, if it helps them get around and keep an eye on things, I think it's great," Smith said. "They look like fun."
Luthringer said she wondered how they would handle on the hilly areas, but Shupp said the scooters worked well on the steeper grades.
"Those are really cool," said Youngsoo Bae, an assistant professor who teaches economics. "I'm kind of jealous. I'd like to try one."
In the police community, Segways haven't been exactly embraced by officers. Say the S-word around some officers, and you'll likely hear them scoff at the notion of whizzing around on a glorified scooter equipped with flashing lights.
Shupp has heard the opinion that officers may look less than intimidating perched on a Segway.
"Being a police officer is not always about looking tough and intimidating," he said. "When we want to build a relationship with the community, we're always looking for a way to reach out and make that happen."

Wire Service
 
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