COVINGTON - To save money on fuel and have a more effective way to do foot patrolling, the Covington Police Department has purchased two electric transporters.
The battery-powered Segway i2 Personal Transporters will primarily be used for patrolling community events such as parades and festivals, as well as everyday operations such as parking enforcement around the Square.
The two-wheeled vehicles can go almost anywhere a pedestrian can go, with a maximum speed of 12.5 miles per hour and a range of up to 24 miles. The transporters work through a stabilization system that provides for zero degree turning and maneuvering and are designed specifically for sidewalk use.
"We liked the versatility of the Segway and its ability to go into places," Capt. Ken Malcom said. "These are being used by a lot of police departments all over the country, by campus police, by any police that do foot patrol."
The police department has had the vehicles for about a week and has already put them to good use, using them to patrol the Covington-Newton County Christmas Parade on Saturday. Two officers canvassed about 15 miles, more than they would have been able to do on foot, Malcom said.
"You can cover so much ground with these, and the platform allows you to look out over the crowd," he said.
The Segways cost $4,500 each, and were paid for by forfeited drug money.
Malcom said it's hard to estimate how much the department will save on fuel costs, but, "When we're on these, the patrol cars will be parked," he said.
Officers are still being trained on how to operate the Segways.
"This will be part of our daily routine, weather permitting," Malcom said.
The department is also looking into purchasing a Global Electric Motorcar, a low-speed vehicle similar to a golf cart, to save further on fuel costs, he said.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.