Regular Segway-powered police patrols hit the city's streets yesterday, a year after the Police Department initially tested the two-wheeled personal transporters.
Standing before the department's first 10 Segways across from City Hall yesterday morning, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said they would be deployed in Center City, on South Street, on Main Street in Manayunk, in University City, and in the high-crime 12th District in Southwest Philadelphia.
The battery-powered Segways, which are 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, said the vehicles are "really an extension of foot patrols," which he also plans to boost by putting more rookie officers on the streets.
But while a foot officer might get tired during a chase, a Segway cop can pursue a culprit at a speed of up to 12.5 m.p.h. and not be out of breath when making an arrest.
"They're valuable tools," Ramsey said, adding they also make officers taller, giving them a better view.
Saying Segways "are cheaper than cars," the commissioner said the department wants to acquire more of the two-wheeled transporters with the aim of getting them "out in the neighborhoods."
Besides the Segways, Ramsey said he hopes to revive the department's mounted unit when the city's financial condition improves.
The department first tested four Segways during a 10-day trial in April 2008.