SC campus cops add green vehicles

The Columbia College Police Department purchased Segways

The Columbia College Police Department is investigating alternative, environmentally friendly transportation to cut costs and increase flexibility.

The campus has a student body of 1,500. The police department has 13 sworn police officers and another eight civilian employees that include dispatch and security personnel.

The department purchased two Segway® Personal Transporters about two years ago, and has been assessing other green types of transport. The department has applied for grants to enable it to purchase electric motorcycles for patrol and a vehicle that is similar to a golf cart, which would be used for student transportation. Police provide courtesy rides for students to off-campuslocations in town.

“We still use our traditional vehicles, but not as much because when we have large events such as parades or alumni weekends, it’s so much safer to be on two wheels, and a Segway places you where you just can’t get with a vehicle,” says Chief Howard Cook. “They’re great for crowd control. For upkeep and maintenance, it costs almost nothing. They’ve been great vehicles, they get us in places like residence halls and academic buildings that you can’t do with other vehicles.”

Cook adds that the Segway initially appealed to the department because the device would make an officer more visible and able to see over crowds.

“When presenting the idea to the student government, they talked about being impressed that we were going to go green. They really gave me a boost and a push,” he says, and the department started investigating different kinds of vehicles.

If the grants materialize, Cook plans to buy two electric motorcycles, whose advantages include no emissions, low maintenance costs, and a ride quiet enough to allow officers to take a stealth approach when necessary.

“They are as quiet as a bicycle but can run up to 70 miles per hour,” Cook points out. “They can go off road and cut down pathways that a Segway or cars could not do. And they run fast enough to chase down cars committing traffic offenses and things like that.”

He says the technology institute provided a valuable learning experience.

“The Rural Law Enforcement Technology Institute was a great opportunity to meet people with similar problems. We were able to exchange e-mail and cell phone information, and a lot of people have worked out problems already that we can learn from.

Were it not for the government stepping up and allowing me to go, I would not have been able to reach out to this many law enforcement officers.”

For more information, contact Chief Howard Cook at

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