Thursday, July 10, 2008

Segways? How about some alternatives?

As you may have heard, there's a fundraiser coming up to purchase a Segway for the Fitchburg Police.

Now, it's not something that would come from tax money, so if people want to spend six grand on a Segway for the cops, they're welcome to do so. But I can't help but wonder just which alternate forms of transportation we could get to help the police be "visible to the public" and "go larger distances in a short amount of time," both benefits cited by Chief DeMoura.

Let's look at the options, shall we?


  • Cost: $6,000, plus energy costs for charging.
  • Pros:
    • Makes you look high-tech.
    • Makes you about 6 inches taller, good for increasing visibility and spotting crime at a distance!
    • Can go 12 mph for about 2 hours.
    • Easy to use, even for uncoordinated or out-of-shape officers.
  • Cons:
    • It's hard to respect anyone riding a Segway.
    • Requires electricity (energy costs, danger of running out of juice in the field, etc.).
    • Can't jump curbs.
    • Makes you look like you're trying to hump a robot.


  • Cost: about $1,000 for this one (6 for $6,000).
  • Pros:
    • Goes up to 35 mph or so if you're a good sprinter and can be ridden at a lower speed all day.
    • Elevates you slightly compared to foot traffic.
    • No difficulty going off-road or jumping curbs (depending on rider).
    • Can apparently be useful in a shootout (see photo).
  • Cons:
    • Doesn't reverse direction quickly.
    • Flat tires are a pain in the ass.
    • Not good for out-of-shape cops.
    • Saddle sores.


  • Cost: roughly $100-$300 (20-60 for $6,000).
  • Pros:
    • Elevates you about 3-4 inches, increasing visibility and so forth.
    • Can maneuver quickly.
    • In a tight spot, can be wielded as a weapon.
    • Can be used to do awesome tricks and entertain the community.
  • Cons:
    • Requires some fitness and balance, plus practice for the aforementioned awesome tricks.
    • Poor off-road abilities.
    • Cops and skaters do not traditionally get along.
    • Skinned knees.


  • Cost: varies, but probably at least $6,000 for the horse and about $3,000 a year for food and whatnot.
  • Pros:
    • Comes with a certain innate dignity.
    • Little girls will get all excited to see you.
    • Best visibility of any of the options here.
    • Can say "Hi-ho Silver, away!" when fighting crime.
  • Cons
    • Expenses of buying, feeding, and housing a horse.
    • A male horse may lead to embarrassing moments if it gets sexually aroused.
    • Not appropriate for overweight officers.
    • Manure.


  • Cost: $100-$300 (20-60 for $6,000).
  • Pros:
    • Highly maneuverable.
    • Some cops in Antwerp already do it, and don't you want to be like Antwerp?
    • Two to three-inch elevation... visibility, etc.
    • Can move pretty fast.
  • Cons:
    • Rollerblades are almost as goofy-looking as Segways.
    • Necessitates a backpack to carry around some normal shoes.
    • Might make you look like you got separated from a gay pride parade.
    • If you have to fire your gun you might go rolling backwards.

"Personal Mobility Device" (aka old-person scooter)

  • Cost: varies, about $4,000 for the one pictured, but may be as low as $2,000 (1-3 for $6,000).
  • Pros:
    • The town's senior citizens and quasi-disabled will feel you're one of them.
    • Goes up to 10 mph.
    • Can frighten criminals with your little horn.
    • "With its powerful dual motors, the Wrangler is the ultimate all-terrain personal mobility vehicle."
  • Cons:
    • Requires electricity (like the Segway).
    • Worst visibility of any of the options here.
    • Little basket on the front better suited to transporting a tiny dog than a cuffed prisoner.
    • Judging from that one "Seinfeld" episode, you may get jumped by a gang of crotchety old people.

Pogo Stick

  • Cost: $30-$100 (60-200 for $6,000).
  • Pros:
    • Great visibility if you can hop high enough.
    • "Boing, boing, boing..." noise coming down the street will frighten away criminals.
    • All-terrain (depending on skill).
    • Can go undercover as a really lame street performer.
  • Cons:
    • Hard to move at a high rate of speed.
    • Significant chance of hitting yourself in the chin if you slip off.
    • May cause motion sickness.
    • Best for catching criminals who are directly above you.

Certainly there are more options than the ones I've listed above, but at least this is a start. Feel free to chime in with your own ideas in the comments (no sneakers though, this is about technology, not footwear!).

Let's make sure the FPD has the tools it needs to most effectively fight crime!