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Personal Transporters & Alternative Vehicles

Written by Kathy Marks

Departments are constantly seeking alternative methods of transportation due to budget constraints, patrolling restricted areas, community policing, and environmental standards. Vehicles are available to fit nearly any budget or patrolling need.

Some departments use more than one type of alternative vehicle. Sergeant Gregory Campbell, Denver, Colo. Police Airport Police Division, stated they have 117 officers assigned to Denver International Airport, the fifth largest airport in the U.S., with passenger traffic exceeding 50 million travelers each year. They use both Segway and other brands of patrollers to cover an area with approximately 130,000 people on an average day, with busy days rising to 170,000.

 

Segway

www.segway.com

Segway’s General Manager Chip MacDonald stated that Segways are very versatile, from being used in large cities, such as Washington, D.C. and Chicago, to neighborhoods, college campuses and transportation hubs, like airports. The Segways provide ground-based patrol and encourage interaction with citizens. The Segway can often get there faster than traditional squad cars in urban areas with alleys and pedestrian-only traffic areas.

For instance, the Segway could traverse a quad area on a crowded college campus, enter buildings, and travel on an elevator directly to a student in distress in a dorm room. Segways are also used in rural areas for events such as state and county fairs, football games and other events. MacDonald reports there is also a big trend for School Resource Officers and hospitals with medical-based police forces to use the Segways. Segway partnered with an agency who does grant research and departments who request this free service are given a list of all available government and corporate grants.

MacDonald stated, “Law enforcement departments are interested in both the ‘green’ energy as well as the lower operating costs. With patrol in crowded cities, the officers would often be walking, leaving the squad car to travel to businesses and other areas. With the Segway, they take their transportation with them.” Each Segway also has a wireless key and if someone tries to “hotwire” the Segway, there is an electronic lock that locks the wheels and sends out an audible alarm. Even if stolen, the vehicle is useless without the wireless key.

MacDonald also spoke to the advantages in arriving quietly at the scene. “Customers often report surprising drug deals going down or catching people involved in other mischief. The vehicles are nearly completely silent and can go anywhere before anyone knows they are there.”

Lorenzo Sheppard, Assistant Chief of Police for Operations, Newport News, Va. Police, reported that they use Segways for local parades, malls and special events because of their maneuverability. Citizens are curious about the Segways and officers have more opportunities to talk to citizens when they approach.

According to Sheppard, “The high visibility and ability to turn on a dime keeps the bad guys from knowing what the officer is doing. When they see the Segway, they scatter because they know the officer has a shorter response time to reach them. The Segway acts as a crime deterrent and a good tool for community policing.” They often deploy two Segways side-by-side in high-crime areas.



Trikke Tech Inc.

www.trikke.com  

Trikke’s Electric Patrol Vehicle is well suited for patrol, crowd and festival control, as well as indoor use. President/CEO John Simpson stated, “An officer on patrol will average 20 miles from one charge, which means if the officer is mainly cruising along at pedestrian speed, the charge would likely last an eight-hour shift. Swapping out the battery takes a few seconds, is extremely simple, and requires no tools. The battery charger plugs into any normal electrical outlet and recharges the battery within 3–5 hours.” The Trikke is extremely maneuverable at the lowest of speeds to full speed.

Simpson reported that the vehicle breaks down the barrier between the officer and the public and people are curious about the vehicle. Customers are impressed with the low maintenance issues, low cost, and the ease of portability, allowing the vehicles to be easily folded and transported.

Art Nigro, Sacramento County, Calif. Sheriff’s Department Trikke Airport Detail Training Coordinator, stated they utilize the Trikke for a faster response to calls and proactive enforcement. Nigro said, “While utilizing the Trikke, it always creates a ‘buzz’ with the passing travelers. The public’s response is always positive and they ask a lot of questions. The Trikke is definitely a conversation starter and gives our officers an opportunity to have a positive interaction with the public.”

They use the Trikke for patrolling the loading and unloading areas at the terminal curbs and the parking facilities, as well as the interior areas of the terminals. The Trikke is easy to learn and operate and their Trikke training program consists of lecture and video, as well as a hands-on operational application.



Victory Police Motorcycles

www.VictoryPoliceMotorcycles.com

Weston Cook, Tyler (Texas) Police Department, said they switched completely to Victory Motorcycles in the past year, with 16 motorcycle positions. Cook stated, “The bike is easy to use, balanced remarkably well, and took very little time to become comfortable enough to learn the bike.” A month after receiving the bikes, he competed in a rodeo and placed 1st, which he attributed to the easy transition to the Commander I. He compared the Victory to a Cadillac, with seat comfort, bar placement, and lack of rattling motor vibration. He reported that “as far as comfort goes, the Victory is in its own class.”

Cook was also impressed with the Victory’s safety. He hit a 70-pound pit bull driving 65 mph and slid his bike approximately 200 feet on the steel engine guards and steel saddle bag guards. He stated that the bike is designed to keep the tires in contact with the ground if it goes down, which bleeds speed much faster than if it’s just sliding on metal. He walked away with a few bumps and bruises but the bike saved him from serious injury. VPM took the motorcycle for repairs in less than a week and made some modifications and upgrades free of charge.

John York, Motor Officer, Denton, Texas Police, stated their motor officers found other motorcycles unacceptable for their needs, and spent months researching the deficiencies, including lack of crash protection, an uncomfortable ride, and high maintenance costs. “The overwhelming winner was without a doubt the Victory Commander 1, the safest motorcycle I have ridden. Equipped with extraordinarily stout front crash bars, and the strongest bag bars I have ever encountered, the Commander 1 forgives rider error,” he commented.

He also cited the Victory’s performance and ride, giving up very little top end speed and acceleration to have the safest, most comfortable police bike made. Additionally its bags carry much more payload for needed supplies, including a 16-inch barreled AR15, securely locked in a rifle rack, but just a button away from deployment when needed, and still having plenty of room for spare magazines.

 

Westward Industries

www.westwardindustries.com

Westward Industries’ three-wheel police patrol and parking enforcement vehicle is used extensively by both the New York and San Francisco Police Departments. The GO-4 offers a solution for New York’s congested streets for patrol, parades, protest rallies, and other events.

Westward Industries Sales Manager Chris Franz reported, “There are several attractive features for law enforcement use. The size and maneuverability of the vehicles makes them better able to navigate traffic. Our new ‘anti-dive’ front suspension makes them handle more like a car when braking. Their 2.5-inch tubular steel chassis and commercially built heavy-duty construction makes them safer in the case of traffic accident impact. There is an optional steel bumper bar that law enforcement customers usually purchase, adding to the safety factor.”

Franz stated that the GO-4 has a taller cab than most other compact vehicles, making it easier to access and exit, and this reduces repetitive stress injuries from officers climbing into and out of the vehicles all day. As a unique feature, the GO-4 has sliding doors that can remain wide open for easy repetitive entry. The GO-4 travels up to 45 mph and is not considered a low-speed vehicle (LSV), which travels 25 mph or less. GO-4 does the prep work, including the extra wiring and other work, making the vehicle ready for the dealer or a third party to install police packages and trim.

 

Xtreme Green

www.xgpinc.com

Neil Roth, President, Xtreme Green, said their all-electric vehicles include the three-wheeler Xtreme Green Sentinel, as well as the Police PRO ATV and Transport Pro Police UTV (utility terrain vehicle). He stated that their customers are interested both in the cost savings and also being environmentally conscious. The vehicles are used in urban settings but the ATV and UTV also provide reliable transportation in rural areas. The versatile vehicles have power steering and lithium ion batteries. The batteries will take the UTV 40-60 miles on a charge, and the three-wheeler 80 miles. The batteries can be charged at any 110 outlet. The three-wheeler has great maneuverability and turns on the rear wheel.

Departments can buy ‘green’ vehicles at a comparable or less cost than traditional fuel vehicles and spend $10 for every $1,000 they would have spent on fossil fuels.

Roth stated, “No one else has our line of UTVs and ATVs. Xtreme Green also installs police lights and sirens at the factory, making that process less expensive than if customers have to do it aftermarket.”

 

Zero Motorcycles

www.zeromotorcycles.com

Zero Motorcycles released the Zero S and Zero DS outfitted and developed for law enforcement in 2013. Zero Motorcycles offers police motorcycles with customizable options and the ability to patrol in both on and off-road areas. The 100-percent electric powertrain is nearly silent, exhaust free, produces minimal heat, has instant torque from zero rpm, and is highly maneuverable. With a ‘fuel’ cost of a penny per mile and a maintenance-free powertrain, a Zero Motorcycles patrol fleet offers cost savings, along with a tactical advantage. Tactical advantages include the ability to accelerate instantly from a silent idle and they are very lightweight for greater maneuverability.

Scotts Valley, Calif. Police Chief John Weiss reported that his department was the first agency in California to use Zero Motorcycles, whose maker is located in his city. He stated they were an exciting and innovative addition to his department and allow for surreptitious, silent patrol.

Weiss stated, “The motorcycles don’t annoy rural residents and are capable of traveling in areas not readily accessible by other patrol vehicles and are good off-road. We use them for searching for suspects or marijuana grows, and they are safer for officers because the subjects don’t hear them coming.” He added that the motorcycles are useful for special events because they allow officers to observe in a low-key way. He said, “They provide a win/win situation: ‘green’ vehicles, silent patrol, multi-purpose, and fun to ride.”

 

Kathy Marks has been a child abuse investigator for more than 30 years. She teaches classes regarding domestic terrorism and is a previous contributor to LAW and ORDER. She can be reached at kathymarks53@aol.com.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Mar/Apr 2014

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Segway Trikke TechVictory Police MotorcyclesWestward IndustriesXtreme Green ProductsZero Motorcycles
 

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