MOREHEAD, Ky.— When the fall term at Morehead State University begins next Monday, officers with the university’s police department will have a new way to efficiently and effectively patrol campus streets and sidewalks thanks to the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center’s (NLECTC) Small, Rural, Tribal, and Border Regional Center (SRTB-RC).
On Aug. 18, SRTB-RC—one of the Public Safety programs hosted by The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Ky.—presented two Segway Personal Transporters to the MSU Police Department at the department’s headquarters in the Laughlin Health Building on campus.
Representatives from SRTB-RC also trained officers on the proper use of the two-wheeled, battery-powered vehicles—which officers stand upon and ride—at the event.
SRTB-RC Executive Director Scott Barker said the Segways will be ideal for use in a university setting.
“They’re exceptional tools to enhance interaction with the public,” Barker said. “The officer is more visible and accessible than he is when he is isolated in a patrol vehicle. Quite often individuals initiate contact with the officer out of curiosity about the device.”
MSU Police Chief Matt Sparks agreed.
“They will tremendously aid our officers in our roles of community policing our campus by allowing us to have more face-to-face contact with students, faculty, and staff during patrols,” Sparks said. “The Segways will not only help our department save money, gas, and man hours, but also will help us reduce our carbon footprint and assist in MSU’s Green campaign.”
Officers riding a Segway will stand roughly 8 inches above a crowd and can move on the self-balancing vehicles at speeds equivalent to a sprint, allowing them to patrol the same areas in a third of the time, according to Kevin Vermillion, technology systems analyst with SRTB-RC. Vermillion trained the MSU Police Department’s officers on the use of the vehicles at the Wednesday event.
“You don’t have to throttle or break,” Vermillion said. “Segways sync their onboard gyros with the rider’s body, so you just lean into it and it moves you forward. The more you lean, the faster you go, and you stop by pulling back and up.”
MSU President Wayne D. Andrews said one of the biggest benefits of the Segways is that they will allow officers to have more informal and frequent contact with students as they move about campus.
“Having members of the MSU Police Department more visible and approachable will strengthen our commitment to providing community policing for the campus, and we are grateful to the Small, Rural, Tribal and Border Regional Center for providing us with this opportunity,” Andrews said. “Incorporating newer technologies such as the Segway into our police operations should help us maintain our status as one of the safest campuses in the nation.”
SRTB-RC provided MSU with the vehicles through its “Segway Human Transporter Loaner Program,” which has provided local law enforcement and corrections agencies across Kentucky and the nation free training and free loaner use of Segways as an outreach activity for the past six years.
Other Kentucky law enforcement agencies that have participated in the Segway program include departments in Somerset, Western Kentucky University, Erlanger, Manchester, Taylor Mill, Morehead (City Police), Taylorsville, Alexandria, Pike County, and London. Departments in Tennessee, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, and North Dakota have also utilized SRTB-RC’s Segways.
“SRTB-RC and The Center believe in bringing real technology and real solutions to small, rural, tribal, and border agencies,” said Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center for Rural Development. “The Segway program is a perfect example of SRTB-RC being able to place an effective, practical tool in the hands of our local law enforcement officers.”
Funded through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute for Justice, National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center, and The Center for Rural Development, SRTB-RC serves as an honest broker providing responsive solutions and practical benefits to small and rural law enforcement agencies and acting as a one-stop-shop for free technical assistance and access to other NIJ Centers for nearly 17,000 small, rural, tribal, and border agencies across the nation through innovative, collaborative cooperation.