By SUSAN ZIELINSKI
Red Deer City RCMP are the second police force in Alberta to train officers on Segways.
Red Deer police started using the two-wheeled, self-balancing electric scooters in the downtown this week. Sylvan Lake borrowed Segways in 2007 to patrol the beachfront and trails and purchased two in 2008.
Red Deer RCMP are leasing four Segways and has 18 officers trained to use them on the streets, sidewalks and trails until October, when the program will be evaluated.
“It’s been used in other jurisdictions effectively. It’s worked. So with that in mind, we thought we’d give it a try,” said Red Deer City RCMP Supt. Brian Simpson on Tuesday morning at a Segway demonstration in front of the police detachment.
“They are quiet. They are high visibility. They have a lot of mobility and they can get around quickly. That works. On top of that, they’re environmentally friendly — a win on all levels.”
A fully-charged Segway can travel about 39 km, or for three or four hours.
The cost of leasing the four Segways until October and training is $24,000, which is coming out of the city’s existing police budget.
The police department required special permission from the province to use Segways on roadways. The general public is not allowed to use them on public roads.
Simpson said even though officers are in the downtown core and other parts of the city, the public doesn’t often see them. Segways will get the police noticed.
Cpl. Mike Numan, with Red Deer City RCMP’s Community Response Unit, said Segways are perfect for police downtown.
“It’s quick. It’s easier to get around, especially with the construction downtown,” Numan said.
“You can hit the alleys. You can hit the sidewalks, wherever you need to go. It’s very convenient and it’s fast. They go up to 20 km/h, which is fairly fast when you’re standing on it.”
Numan said the trickiest part about using a Segway is balancing.
“Once you get the hang of it, it’s a very useful tool and it’s very fun to ride.
“It’s kind of like downhill skiing.”
Numan said Segways have already attracted positive attention and are a good way to get out and meet the public. They will be used at outdoor events like Westerner Days and Centrefest.
On Monday, officers on Segways dealt with a few intoxicated people in the downtown.