This article describes the introduction of Segway Human Transporters (HTs) to Alaska law enforcement agencies in order to assess its potential for use in various public safety contexts.
The Segway is a battery-operated, two-wheel vehicle on which the driver stands and controls the direction and speed of the vehicle with the movement of his/her body. It has a range of 12 miles before batteries must be recharged; however, the imminent availability of lithium batteries would double its range. In early 2003, the National Institute of Justice's program manager for the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC)-Northwest contacted Segway about its evaluation program. In May, the company sent a representative to Anchorage, AK, to demonstrate the device. Shortly thereafter, NLECTC-Northwest's advisory council approved participation in the evaluation program. In August, 10 officers from the Juneau Police Department received training on 2 Segways provided on loan by NLECTC-Northwest. The use of the HT for various law enforcement tasks became evident. Obvious uses were for transporting bomb squad and HAZMAT unit personnel with heavy suits and packs from their vehicles to incident sites and back. Although the Juneau police filed the first application to participate in the Segway loaner program, after just 1 month of operation, NLECTC-Northwest received numerous other requests to participate. These requests were for Segway use in correctional facility interior patrol, campus patrol by school resource officers, parking lot patrol at the Alaska State fair, patrol at the International Airport in Anchorage, and police patrol on the islands of Kodiak and Sitka. Segway evaluations have also been arranged for agencies in other States through the NLECTC system. Thorough training in Segway use is essential in order for users to learn its limitations and potential.
Date Published: January 1, 2004