Segway to join APD force

Ashland police are slated to become the first police department in the state to utilize Segways &

a scooter-like vehicle on which the driver stands, upright, between the two wheels &

for law enforcement purposes.

"It's ground-breaking for this area, and the state of Oregon," said Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness. "But not nationwide. They are very big with police departments in cities with a lot of tourists."

Segway markets their "personal transporter" to police departments on the company's Web site, noting that more than 250 law enforcement agencies around the country use them.

They call it "an ideal policing partner. Raised an additional eight inches off the ground, it places an officer a clear head above the crowd. That means that officers will be seen when they need their presence felt. Segway PT riders have superior sight lines for traffic management, crowd control, and community policing."

Holderness, noting that APD test-drove a Segway earlier in the summer, said the fact they are so eye-catching is one of the reasons he thought it would be a useful tool for officer Teri DeSilva, who will most often use the Segway during her downtown beat.

"She could see better than she could on a bike," Holderness told the Ashland City Council, which approved $8,500 for the Segway and its extended warranty Tuesday. The money is coming from a pool of funds APD is entitled to for participation in a Federal Drug Enforcement Agency interagency task force on drug eradication.

Council Eric Navickas said APD could buy 16 bicycles for officers for the price of one Segway, and chalked up the expense to more "gadgetry," for police.

"My vision is to shift to a police department that focuses on bicycles," he said.

But Holderness said Segways, in addition to being more visible and offering a clearer line of sight, have another advantage. If an officer has to ride a far distance on a bike to respond to a crime, they might be too tired to do their job, he said.

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