By Patrick Lacombe, The Belton Journal
The Belton Police Department is considering adding 2 Segway SE-3 Patrollers to it’s inventory. Their main purpose would be to patrol Belton’s growing trail system and neighborhood parks along with the downtown area. Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis said, “If we get them, and we’re primarily looking at the 3 wheeled Patroller, it would be primarily for CHIPS (Citizens Helping In Police Service) but our officers will use them also.” CHIPS volunteers have been patrolling local parks using Police Department golf carts. The CHIPS are the Eyes and ears of the Belton Police department and patrol in areas like public parks and shopping center parking lots during the holiday season. CHIPS volunteers carry radios and report to a dispatcher at Police headquarters if there is suspicious activity or an emergency and either Police or Fire/Ems is immediately dispatched to the scene. “Our trail system is getting longer and it’s a great attraction to the community along with the creek project.
It’s just another way in addition to the bicycles and golf carts that we can interact with the community, be visible to keep them safe.” said Chief Ellis. The Segway Patrollers are equipped with a 20 mile charge and top speed of 15 MPH, the 3 wheeled Patrollers would give officers and volunteers a faster response time and access to areas that the golf carts cannot traverse. Powered by multiple rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries that can be charged at any standard electrical outlet or swapped out for replacement batteries to allow for continuous use, the SE-3 Patroller also features independent direct rear wheel drive, travels in reverse and turns in a very tight radius. CHIPS volunteers were given the opportunity to learn more about the Segway Patroller and were given instructions on it’s use at a class held at the Police Department this past Tuesday. Chief Ellis demonstrated the Segway to CHIPS volunteers gathered in the parking lot at Police Headquarters.
Each person took their turn at driving the 3 wheeled Patroller around the parking lot and learning it’s various features. Earlier that morning, Chief Ellis used the Patroller to cruise the downtown area of Belton. “I was stopped probably 10 or 12 times by people commenting on seeing CHIPS out on patrol and they all had positive comments. They were also asking about the Segway.” Said Chief Ellis. When asked about the cost of the unit, Chief Ellis said, “They are a bit pricey. Each piece of equipment is highly specialized and specialty equipment comes at a cost. Each Segway costs about $12,000 but at this time we’re just demoing them, as far as funding, whether the alumni takes it on as a fundraiser or if it becomes a future grant, we don’t know right now. We just want to see if this is something practical for our use.”