APD takes Segway for Plaza test-drive

Officer Teri DeSilva of the Ashland Police Department spent her patrol shift Thursday on her feet as usual, patrolling the Plaza as she has done most days in recent years. But the method of transportation she used was anything but normal as DeSilva rode a Segway downtown.

She came away impressed with the Segway's capabilities.

"The Segway in the downtown area is exceptionable," she said. "In Lithia Park, we have taken it all the way through the park. It does well on the bark, as well as the sand."

The idea to test-drive the two-wheel, upright vehicle grew from the Fourth of July parade, DeSilva said. APD's interest piqued while observing a Medford security company riding the Segway.

"A lot of cities that have concentrated downtown areas have them," police Chief Terry Holderness said. "I think it is the perfect tool for the parts of the downtown area here."

Holderness said he likes the advantages of a Segway more than a bike.

"You can get to a call quicker than on foot and not be winded," he said, adding, "This way you can get there three times faster and arrive fresh."

Holderness said that he plans to send a supplemental budget to July's second Ashland City Council meeting. The funds used to purchase the vehicle will come from a portion of money the federal government has confiscated from drug dealers.

"I think the Segway will be the perfect use of that money," said Holderness, who has also test-driven the vehicle. " the end of this season, late August or early July, we hope to have purchased a Segway."

The base price for a street-version Segway is $5,000. But once you add the police package, the total cost rises about $600.

"They can be set up with lights, sirens and definite decals indicating that it is a police vehicle," Officer DeSilva said.

The police chief said he would initially buy one, but would ultimately like to have two Segways.

"I want to make sure it is truly cost-effective," he said.

While easily maneuvering back and forth on the Segway, DeSilva said, "The breakdown of electricity versus gas is one battery charge equals 480 gallons of gas. I've been out here for seven hours and still have half a battery."

The approachability of the Segway also impresses the APD.

"So many people have stopped me today," DeSilva said. "And the hoops and the hollas and the yays. They're amazed at how energy-efficient it is. Just today alone, I've had 50 people stop me to talk or wave."

Within the police department, DeSilva said officers are pushing each other out of the way to get on it, even officers she wouldn't think would be interested.

"I think with all the positive pieces with it," she said, "it would be a wise move to buy."

is a recipient of the Dow Jones editing internship, spending 10 weeks at the Ashland Daily Tidings. To post a comment on this story, go to .

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