In the heart of the Minneapolis theater district, two Metro Transit police officers stole the show the other day. Officers Donn Wallin and Scott Tinucci combined law enforcement with what looked like a circus act, putting their new Segway Human Transporters through a street and sidewalk test. “Cool!” several passersby said. Three skateboarders gave them a thumbs-up. “How fast do those things go?” asked a motorcyclist turning a corner in front of them.
The two $6,000 cruisers top out at about 16 miles per hour, but officials expect them to be a valuable addition to downtown street patrols. The two-wheeled, battery-powered devices are expected to move officers quickly through crowds and help them see and be seen over most people’s heads. They’ll be used primarily at the Metrodome light-rail platforms on game days and along Hennepin Avenue and Nicollet Mall. More than 125 law enforcement agencies around the world use Segways, according to Carla Vallone, spokeswoman for the manufacturer. St. Paul police have a pair, donated by a business group, for use downtown. In some cities, parking monitors and utility inspectors use them to help lower emissions and fuel costs, Vallone said.