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Police Segwey-ing into future
Manteca may spend $46K for personal transport vehicles
A Chicago Police officer on patrol using a Segway. - photo by Photo Contributed

Manteca is about to start segueing from fossil fuel to electric power to move police officers around town.

And the vehicle of choice is a Segway.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday is expected to accept a $46,775 grant from the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District for the purchase of six alternative-fuel personal transport vehicle with two wheels. Segway is the sole source provider for such alternative fuel transport vehicles.

In a report to the council, Police Chief Nick Obligacion noted they will “increase personnel coverage and productivity.”

Mayor Willie Weatherford, a former police chief himself, said on Thursday he hadn’t yet read the staff report but figured the Segways would be a solid tool for policing.

“You can use it downtown and to patrol the Tidewater Bikeway,” Weatherford noted.

Besides being able to go where patrol units can’t easily get to, Segways have another advantage. They are zero emission vehicles.

The city - like other California jurisdictions - is under the gun of a state mandate to cut its carbon footprint of greenhouse gases by 2020.

Segways have been effective used by other police departments to maximum their community policing, to work festivals and large crowds, and as an alternative means to deal with major disasters. A growing number have switched their bicycle patrols to Segways.

Bridgeport Police Chief Bryan Norwood in Connecticut indicated in a case study that, “in general, if a municipality is using community-based policing as their platform, the Segway PT is the tool. It allows cops to get out of their cars, be in touch with people and create dialog. It’s one of those tools that the cops say ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could use it that way. For us, it has been a big success.”

Some departments use them to issue parking tickets.

There are also fire agencies that use them to move emergency medical personnel around at major events where there are lots of people in attendance.

Basic Segways have a top speed of 12.5 mph. Charging their batteries for an hour provides two hours of operation at a cost of about five cents in electricity. In addition to the operator, Segways can accommodate up to 10 pounds of cargo.

This is not the first time Manteca has taken a pro-active stance in seeking grants to implement green technology in a bid to save money. It has two cutting edge hybrids refuse trucks - the first of their respective genres on the West Coast - collecting garbage and recyclables in Manteca. They emit significant less pollution, consume less gas, and reduce costly brake work by 75 percent.

The city also is switching out street lights to more energy efficient bulbs to reduce energy costs as well.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.