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Shepherdstown Police Department purchases its first Segway

By Staff | May 25, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Shepherdstown Police Department Parking Enforcement Officer Stephen Alemar demonstrates how easy it will be for the police to cruise through town on the department’s new Segway.

The Shepherdstown Police Department revealed its newest acquisition, a Segway x2 SE Patroller, in Town Hall on May 17.

The Town Council and police force representatives watched as Parking Enforcement Officer Stephen Alemar demonstrated how to ride and turn the used Segway, which can be driven on- or off-road.

“This is great for me; I can put my phone right in the carrier, and it’s so easy to use,” Alemar said, mentioning he had previous Segway experience at a former job.

“We put a lot of thought into it, and we talked about it for months,” said Mayor Jim Auxer, who added Chief of Police Mike King came up with the original idea. “This is environmentally-sound, it’s electric. It is for the use of the entire police force.”

According to Auxer, one police officer on a Segway will be able to cover the same ground as two or three officers on foot.

“This isn’t taking away from the use of bicycles. It’s just one more tool for public safety,” Auxer said. “Shepherdstown has always been a green town, and this will save the use of motor vehicles, which will both be good environmentally and economically.”

The Town Council and SPD considered buying imitation Segways, but according to Town Recorder Lori Robertson, the name-brand Segway was the only well-rated option. They decided to buy a refurbished Segway, which had been previously used for tour groups, because it would cost less than a new or rented one.

“We think we’re going to be using it a lot, because we do make a lot of short trips around the town,” King said. “It was something we looked at for a while. The company claims a person can learn it in 10 to 15 minutes, so we’ll be practicing on it over the next week.”

According to King, one police officer is usually on-duty at a time, so the Segway will be at the disposal of whomever is on-duty. During the day, it will primarily be used for parking ticket violations and to patrol local events. At night, it will be used more covertly, to address trespassing at Rumsey Park and illegal drug activity at the Potomac River’s boat ramp area. The Segway is quiet, which makes it ideal for nighttime patrolling.

“It has a range of 16 to 19 miles on a single charge, with two range settings for speed. Currently, it’s on the lowest setting because that saves energy, but it can travel up to four-and-a-half miles per hour at its fastest speed,” King said. “It has some safety precautions. It will growl at you and shake if it thinks you’re driving recklessly.”