Juneau police to be first in Alaska to experiment with Segway scooter patrols

Officers to begin using scooters on patrol downtown next Friday

Posted: Friday, August 08, 2003

Ten Juneau Police officers soon may inspire some double takes when they hit the streets on Segway Human Transporter vehicles.

Assistant Chief Greg Browning said the department will provide a consumer report of sorts for law enforcement agencies. It will be the first in Alaska to experiment with the battery-operated, two-wheel scooters.

"We feel it could conceivably be a good community policing tool," he said.

The officers, who normally would be assigned to bike or foot patrols, were scheduled for four hours of training on the device today. The officers are scheduled to begin working with them downtown next Friday.

Both the training and the $5,000 machines will be provided to the Juneau Police Department at no charge through the Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center-Northwest, based in Anchorage. The scooters will be returned at the end of the experiment in October, Browning said.

The scooters can reach top speeds of about 12 mph, but "typically we wouldn't run them at that," Browning said.

He said he didn't know how Segways will handle the steep grades of downtown streets.

"I think that was one of the reasons why we were picked," he said.

Segways have been tried out in some bigger cities. New York City began a 60-day Segway trial at the end of July. Atlanta and San Francisco, which has a few steep grades of its own, also have had police experiment with the devices, according to media reports.

Browning said that in addition to downtown patrols, he envisions Segways being useful for school patrols, parking enforcement and some tactical operations.

He said he could see them being used in tight areas. Pursuing suspects is not the intended primary law enforcement use for a Segway, but "it's conceivable in a foot pursuit the officer would be not at all tired," he added.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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