Long Beach boardwalk-goers may notice police patrolling in a different way these days – on battery-powered Segways.
The two-wheel Segways, which the officers stand atop, were recently taken out of storage after about five or six years. Segways are zero-emission personal transporters that deliver energy efficiency equivalent to 450 miles per gallon, police officials said.
“They’re really green, with no emissions," said Sgt. Eric Cregeen, a public information officer for the Long Beach Police Department. "You just plug them in at night and they’re ready to go with a full charge the next day,"
The department's Segways are still in good shape, move well and could probably reach speeds of 12 MPH, Cregeen added, and officers using them could patrol a greater area more efficiently. “They could cover more territory with one or two Segways than with five or six officers on foot," he said. "It’s an interesting piece of equipment.”
The more lightweight vehicles are expected to relieve some of the wear and tear that patrol cars leave on the boardwalk.
“The boardwalk beach maintenance people notified us that the boardwalk has been torn up by the patrol vehicles, so we’re going to limit their use to the late evenings when their presence is necessary," he said. "You will not see them ripping down the boardwalk at four in the afternoon.”
The Segways will be used by Long Beach Special Police Officers who are college-age kids pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Long Beach police were given 24 [specials] during the summer. They are mainly assigned to write tickets for beer drinking, loitering or disturbing the peace.
“But they could also find missing kids and reunite them with their parents and we may use them during Irish Day festivities,” Cregeen said.
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Warren Vegh, executive director of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the lighter vehicles will not do as much damage to the boardwalk and will increase the officer’s maneuverability. "We’ve already gotten good feedback from everybody," he said.
“It’s vital that we have these Segways out on patrol and not in storage,” LBPD Commissioner Michael Tangney in a statement. “They’re environmentally friendly and enable our special officers to patrol a wide area in a significantly shorter period of time than if they were on foot.”