Segway-powered police patrols are finally hitting the city's streets, a year after the Police Department initially tested the two-wheeled electric vehicles.
Unveiling the department's first 10 Segways this morning, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said they would be deployed in Center City, on South Street and Main Street in Manayunk, in University City and in the high-crime 12th District in Southwest Philadelphia.
The battery powered Segways, equipped with a special police package that includes flashing lights and sirens, were purchased for the department with $60,000 raised by the Police Foundation.
Ramsey, whose officers used Segways when he headed the Police Department in Washington, D.C., said the vehicles are "really an extension of foot patrols," which he plans to boost by putting more rookie officers on the streets.
But where a foot officer might get tired during a chase, a Segway cop can pursue a culprit at a speed of up to 12.5 mph and not be out of breath when he, or she, catches up.
"They're valuable tools," Ramsey said, adding they also make officers taller, giving them a better view.
Saying Segways are cheaper than cars, he said the department wants to acquire more of the two-wheeled transporters with the aim of getting "them out in the neigborhoods."
Besides the Segways, Ramsey said he hopes to revive the department's horse mounted unit when the city's financial condition improves.
The department tested Seqways during a 10-day trial in April 2008.