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Segways Help Campus Police Go Green

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
August 6, 2008


The newest mode of transportation for campus police will also give officers and students something to talk about: the Segway has come back to UNH.

When inventor Dean Kamen unveiled the upright electric scooter in 2001, UNH was a test site. The community policing model hit the market in 2007, and it wasn’t long before UNH police were investigating the possibility of adding Segways to their fleet.

Last month, they took two Segways on loan so they could evaluate their effectiveness. The results? They’re great, says Deputy Police Chief Paul Dean. So great, in fact, they’re going to buy them.

“And I was a skeptic,” Dean says. “They offered them to us for two months free so I said, ‘free’s free, we’ll try them,’ but I wasn’t convinced. Then as soon as I got on, I was sold.”


Learning to ride the Segway takes mere minutes. Dean gives a quick demonstration. The further forward he leans, the faster the Segway goes. Leaning back slightly makes it stop. To go in reverse, he leans back even more. A gentle pull on the handlebars takes it left or right.

Everyone who uses the two-wheel scooter goes through a brief training session. Riders wear helmets.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike,” Dean says. “It feels like you’re floating.”

The Segway runs on a lithium battery that holds its charge for eight to 10 hours. At the end of a shift or when an officer returns to the station to fill out a report, the Segway is plugged in and recharged. It can travel between three and fifteen mpr—about as fast as someone can sprint--and comes with a siren and headlight.

“We’ve been trying to find ways for us to go green,” Dean says. “With fuel prices the way they are, we wanted to do something, but we have to be mobile all the time regardless of the cost. This is one way we can balance safety and be a partner in going green.”

“The best thing about the Segway is it will engage the public in conversation, and any time we can do that is good for us,” Dean adds.

Another plus: the scooter is eight inches higher than the original model, making it useful in a crowd, Dean says, because officers will be able to see above and into a large group, and move people back, if necessary.

Turning the Segway on and off is done by a watch worn on the officer’s wrist. If he goes beyond 15 feet, a built-in security feature sets off an alarm and the scooter starts shaking.

The Segways will be used right up to the first snowfall. They aren’t driven in the rain.

UNH police have had mountain bikes and motorcycles for years. The Segway, Dean says, is simply another tool to help officers get around campus.

“The officers have embraced them. Even the naysayers have come around and say it’s a good tool,” Dean says.

Dean would like to add two more Segways to the tool chest but at about $5,000 each, he is looking for grants to purchase them. Because the standup scooter is battery powered and not electric, there aren’t many grants available.



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