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Here come the Segways

Manteca Police debuting new rides at Pumpkin Fair

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Here come the Segways

Manteca Police Department Traffic Officer Patrick Danipour shows off one of the new Segway scooters that the department bought with a $46,000 grant from the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control Distri...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin/


POSTED September 30, 2013 10:31 p.m.

Forget horses. Forget bicycles. Forget trudging through the crowd on foot.

The Manteca Police Department is going modern.

Thanks to a $46,000 grant from the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District, residents will soon see the officers that patrol large city functions making their around on Segways. They’re the two-wheeled, battery-powered machines that move based on the weight distribution of the rider.

Lean forward and it goes forward. Lean back and it stops. Lean sharply to the right or the left and it spins donuts on a dime.

And with the Manteca Sunrise Kiwanis Pumpkin Fair coming up this weekend, the Segway scooters will make their official public debut with deputies that will be assigned to patrol the streets of downtown Manteca and keep an eye on the tens of thousands of visitors expected to filter through town over the course of the two days.

But it won’t be their speed – they can top out at around 14 miles per hour – that’ll make a difference in a crowd like the one expected to descent upon Manteca at the end of the week.

It’s their size.

“I’m not a very tall guy, and this adds about a foot and allows you to kind of see over the crowd and what’s going on out in front of you and that’s a big benefit,” Danipour said. “They’re also very maneuverable. They can literally spin in a circle without taking up any more room than the size of their tires, and that makes them very handy for when you’re in a setting like that.

“We have those GEM electric cars, but with those you have to ask people to move when you back up and you can’t really cover as much ground. With these you can just go.”

The department purchased six of them. They will outfit each of them with identifiable police markings, flashing red and blue lights and a mobile siren similar to what bicycle officers used to use when they patrolled crowds downtown.

Danipour is one of five instructors that will bring all sworn officers up to speed on how to drive the Segways before they’ll be allowed to drive them on any sort of a patrol.

Manteca, however, isn’t the only law enforcement agency in the South County that is turning to something different when it comes to patrolling with crowds.

The Ripon Police Department received a pair of Segway-esqe “trikes” three months ago via donation, and has immediately put them to work – currently the city’s School Resource Officer navigates the Ripon High campus on one as well as the streets of Downtown Ripon when students are at lunch.

Ripon’s senior volunteer corps utilizes the other one, and it will be a big part of the department’s presence at the upcoming Main Street Days event next month.

“He really loves the thing,” Ripon Police Chief Ed Ormonde said of Officer Trevor McGinnis. “It can go up to 16 miles per hour, and it allows him to get between classes and builds really quickly and efficiently and carry everything that needs to carry – cover more area than he did before.

“We’re getting good use out of them.”

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