New equipment enhances foot patrol
Two Segways have been purchased for the Amherst Police Department as a result of fund-raising by the Amherst Police Foundation, Inc., an organization dedicated to raising money for new police equipment.
A Segway is a two-wheeled, electric machine on which patrol officers can stand to patrol areas of the town. Chief John Moslow said the purchase will enhance the department's ability to patrol.
"This equipment updates our foot patrol; it modernizes it," he said. "It makes the patrol more effective and efficient."
The new machines have been in the possession of the department for a few weeks, and after training, patrol officers on Segways made their debut at the Fourth of July celebration and Old Home Days.
The advantage these machines have in such events is the ability to get through crowds, something a patrol car or even a motorcycle would have difficulty doing. It has a top speed of 12 mph, and on a full charge can go 24 miles.
The machine is easy to operate. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get used to the movement, Moslow said. To move forward, the operator must lean forward; to go in reverse, he leans backward. Brakes are applied when the operator shifts his or her weight in the opposite direction from which he is moving. A gear on the left handlebar is used for steering.
The models purchased by the Amherst Police Foundation can maneuver off the pavement and will be used on the bike path and in parks.
Officer Ed Bailey, who was demonstrating the Segway at Old Home Days, said he took the machine for a test run in Glen Park, and it handled the hills with ease.
The police model is marked with the symbol of the Amherst Police Department, as well as lights and a siren.
The cost for both Segways was $12,000, paid for by fund-raising events. Trent Voelkl, chairman of the Amherst Police Foundation, said Moslow tells the foundation what items the department would be interested in having, and then the purchases are made.
Last year the foundation purchased the portable command center and the truck to pull it. In the fall it will be buying a forensic video-enhancement unit.
This item will allow the police department to take video from a surveillance or security camera and clarify it to be used in investigations. For example, regular footage might capture a vehicle in a parking lot, but the new software will allow the police to clarify and enlarge the picture to possibly read a license plate.
The Amherst Police Department is the first to have Segways, purchased through Rob Hausrath of Segway of Western New York. He said other agencies are looking into purchasing the machine, including Lancaster and Cheektowaga.
He added that he has proposed the idea to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for use at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.