Paul Blart, Airport Cop: Segways at SFO

Goofy $5,000 "mobility devices" save police from having to patrol on foot, even when they can't drive

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Jun 16, 2009  |  Updated 5:36 AM PDT
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Paul Blart, Airport Cop: Segways at SFO

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Segways should help officers quickly duck into bathrooms to check for senators playing footsie.

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The San Francisco Police Department has spent $20,000 to purchase four new Segway scooters in a pilot program for patrolling San Francisco International Airport.

The idea is to speed up responses to calls around the airport, since walking is seen as too slow. A Segway can travel up to 12.5 miles per hour -- or about twice as fast as an unenthusiastic jogger. However, Segways were deemed too dangerous for sidewalks in San Francisco, where riders have to stick to roadways like bicyclists.

Will lights and sirens will be added to the scooters in order to warn travellers in the packed corridors?

There's fictional precedent for Segways being used to patrol sterile, pedestrian-only corridors. But San Francisco's boys in blue are dreading the inevitable comparisons to Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

"You get the feeling people are going to start handing you doughnuts any moment," an unidentified officer who feels "silly" riding the thing told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The expense comes as the department is being asked to tighten its belt thanks to a massive city budget deficit. Instead, top brass seem to be spending more money in order to take exercise out of the equation.

Jackson West figures the only sillier form of transportation would be unicycles.

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