Segways help officers connect with campus
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 20, 2013 02:09
It was in 2007 that the UNH Police Department first began using a Segway to patrol campus, but the unusual, eye-catching set of wheels has provided more than just a way for officers to get around campus.
Because they run on lithium batteries that can last up to 10 hours and are able to move at high speeds of 10 to 15 miles per hour, these vehicles allow officers to travel around for an extended period of time.
Looking like a pogo stick with wheels, the first was purchased six years ago for roughly $5,000, according to UNH Police Chief and Executive Director of Public Safety, Paul Dean.
The former UNH Police Chief, Nick Halias, donated a Segway to the department after winning it in a raffle. Dean suggested that the department use the vehicles. The company that produces the Segways bills itself as “the leader in personal, green transportation,” and Dean said that it was first a mission to promote sustainability, a strongly upheld value here on campus.
“Part of the reason [we decided to start using them] was that the gas crisis was looming at the time,” Dean said. “The [UNH] Police Department wanted to find a way to participate in going green.”
In addition to the environmental friendliness they offer, the Segways have come to serve another important purpose for officers.
“Any time you can put officers in contact with the public, it’s a great thing,” Dean said. “It’s kind of like an icebreaker in a conversation. It’s more awkward to talk to an officer in a car than one standing on a Segway.”
Many in the student body seem to feel that the vehicles are achieving the goals of sustainability and public contact. Justine Chuairy, a senior studying tourism planning and development, is most impressed with the sustainability aspect.
“It’s better than having them drive around all day and putting all those unnecessary emissions into the air,” Chuairy said.
“I feel like they’re less intimidating,” Dominique Viglas, a senior studio art major, said. “When they rolled through the halls of my freshman dorm, I just kind of laughed. But if they were walking through, I would be a little more worried.”
As for the future, Dean says he plans on keeping the current Segways for the department, but there are currently no plans to purchase more.
“For the size of our department, two seem to work out just fine,” Dean said.