Last modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2007 4:40 PM CDT
Police scooting around town on Segways
By Mary ShapiroShoppers in Westfield Chesterfield mall and the Chesterfield Commons shopping center are seeing cops on wheels.
With the recent acquisition of a pair of two-wheeled Segway personal transporter machines, Chesterfield police are now patroling both facilities more efficiently and effectively, said Chesterfield Police Chief Ray Johnson.
The futuristic-looking, one-person machines have received a positive response from residents and business owners alike, he said.
Lt. Steve Lewis said the two Segways were purchased for about $5,200 each about a month ago, using drug asset forfeiture funds.
"They were put into use earlier this month after training for the four officers who will be using them in different shifts," Lewis said.
"The idea for us to get them originated at a CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) conference that Chief Johnson and City Administrator Mike Herring attended in Lexington, Ky. They observed local police patroling downtown malls using the Segways and discussed their application for our commercial areas."
Lewis said police contacted those in the Chesterfield business community "and they were very receptive and supportive."
Michael Staenberg of THF Realty and developer of Chesterfield Commons said he was excited about the use of Segways in the commons.
"We have a world-class shopping center in Chesterfield, and this addition to our police protection will only enhance safety and security for our patrons," he said.
The battery-operated Segways will be used to patrol and navigate business areas and special events, such as the city's Fourth of July celebration and the St. Louis County Fair and Air Show, Johnson said.
"We're not sure if we'll get more," Lewis said. "We're not ruling Segways out at any other locations, depending on support from the business community, because we can use them potentially for any crowd control situation."
With a top speed of 12 mph, riders are elevated 10 inches by standing on the machines and use the position of their body to control the speed and direction.
"The Segways will provide a unique mode of transportation that will enable officers to quickly maneuver in crowded areas both indoors and out," Johnson said. "Additionally, they will provide them a greater ability to see above the crowds in populated areas."
Officers enjoy using them, Lewis said.
"Our guys won't get fat using them," he said. "You use your body to operate them, so they demand some physical dexterity."
You can contact Mary Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.