Officials with the Sykesville Police Department hit the streets on two Segways at the town's annual fall festival early this month, and rolled them out again this past week at Century High School's homecoming parade.
Donated to the station by the Montgomery County Police Department, the Segways have already proven an important tool in helping police patrol the town and stay connected to residents, according to Sykesville Police Chief John Williams Jr.
"They come in quite handy," Williams said. "They're quite unique. They raise you up and give you a higher platform (to see)."
"In a car, sometimes people feel uncomfortable or feel like they're bothering you," Williams said. "(A Segway) promotes that personal interaction. They (the publi) see you out. It's a community tool."
Officers must be trained specifically to operate the two-wheel, upright, motorized device, Williams said.
Currently, three officers and Williams are trained. Along with the department's all-terrain-vehicle (another donation over four years ago from a local motorcycle shop) and mountain bikes, the Segways will be used to patrol the town's trails and parks.
"They're another tool," Williams said. "The neat thing is, they're battery-powered, reducing our carbon footprint."
Williams stressed that the Segways were donated, not purchased. They came about because of the department's relationships with larger police departments in the area. In this case, Montgomery County was getting newer Segways, and contacted Sykesville in September to offer two of its older models — as well as the training to use them.
"We're very fortunate to receive equipment from other organizations, and grants," Williams said. "Our connections and networking provided us a higher level of services for our community at not cost. During these times of critical budget cuts, we still try to maintain a high level of service for the community."
Williams then added, "Anybody who wants to give us any more, we're glad to accept them."