Your tax dollars at work: Segway into spending
Up on this list is the tech-happy Glens Falls Police, who are looking into purchasing some of these two-wheeled electric propulsion devices as a way to get officers out of their squad cars and onto the streets. The Post Star reports the department is now testing two of these $6,000 devices, with the anticipation of purchasing at least one to patrol the city streets before summer’s end.
Police officials are selling the devices as a way to help the city conserve on gasoline during this high-cost age of fossil fuel. And best of all, it’s free to the taxpayer, thanks to federal grant funding.
“It's a good option for patrol in a central business district,” remarked Police Chief Joseph Bethel. “You can run silently, and unlike a bicycle or on a foot patrol, the officer won’t be out of breath when they get there (to a call).”
Of course, most physically fit individuals can maintain a sustained run at more than 10 mph and don’t have problems tipping over when darting around corners. And unlike the electric-powered Segway, most foot patrols are fueled by a well-balanced diet and can walk more than 24 miles in a day without having to be plugged into a charger. Usually, these are feats any remotely fit person can accomplish without feeling sore the next day.
So as logic would have it, one would think the department would simply tell its officers to pound concrete a bit more. The effort would help them develop a better report with the public and would help some of the more donut-prone cops shed some of the excess pounds. Case in point, this officer filmed riding the Segway doesn’t appear to be among the most fit in the department.
However, foot patrols are often shunned by police unions, which generally like their constituents to do as little physical work as possible. Take for instance the increasing prevalence of Tasers among Capital Region law enforcement agencies. It’s another high-tech device aimed at preventing police from using what they tend to use anyway: Brute animalistic force.
One can at least argue the Taser helps police avoid hand-to-hand combat, which often has a habit of causing costly injuries. The Segway, however, looks like an injury waiting to happen for any cop engaging an individual who doesn’t necessarily feel like being apprehended. It’s tough to argue that officers are more balanced when they’re standing two feet above the public and balancing on two wheels.
Not to mention, Segways are inoperable in snow and ice, which happens to blanket most of the Capital Region for up to five months out of every year. In other words, it’s a $6,000 expense our deficit laden federal government would be wise to avoid, especially given the size of Glens Falls and its police force.
The most compelling argument against these devices is that they add yet another layer of machine between the law and the public it governs. The next logical step is to remove the officers from the street altogether. Maybe they can start policing the community with cameras, unmanned Predator drones and urban tactical squads. After all, this sort of tactic seems to be working fairly well overseas.