Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Officer Henry Wallace test drives a patrol Segway the city plans to purchase. Police say the small vehicle will be perfect for zipping through crowds at festivals and other busy events.
A $12,500 police Segway is coming to Oberlin.
City council approved an additional $4,000 Monday for the police department to purchase the new three-wheeled vehicle, which looks like an armored version of the well-known Segway.
Police chief Juan Torres said the Segway will be used to police city and school events, downtown, Tappan Square, and Oberlin College.
The idea of purchasing the vehicle came from officer Marc Ellis: “My biggest thing is to get the guys out of the cruisers,” he said. “I’ve been wanting it for a long time.”
Torres has been focused on increasing community policing and getting officers out of their cars to interact with residents more since taking the chief job in July.
He believes the Segway will be very useful in pedestrian- and bike-friendly Oberlin and at festivals. The new vehicle will have a police siren and lights and will travel at 15 mph.
Ellis expects the community and children will love the Segway, which he sees as the perfect vehicle for navigating busy events.
“That’s going to put me about six to eight inches above the crowd,” he said.
Officers and city officials test drove a patrol Segway Wednesday to make sure it will fit their needs.
Torres said he only knoww of one police department — in the Cincinnati area — that uses Segways.
City manager Eric Norenberg said the purchase will be funded by $8,000 that had been tucked away to replace the city’s Humvee roof.
Officers originally wanted to transform the military-grade vehicle into an outreach car to connect with the community but it needed a lot of work, Norenberg said.
“We’ve used it on a couple occasions during sever storms such as flooding on Reserve Avenue,” he said. The Humvee will be transferred to another city or back to the military.
It is unclear exactly when the new patrol vehicle will arrive in town.
Valerie Urbanik can be reached 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.