Long Beach cops have finally vindicated the much-ridiculed Segway - by busting three teen car thieves who failed to escape the long arm of one motorised pogo-stick-borne law enforcement operative.
Last Thursday, 34-year-old officer Jose Miguez chose the two-wheeler to scoot around his beat. He explained: "I decided to take a Segway that day, and I observed a Mercedes-Benz coming out of the drive-through of Burger King, and it was being operated by a kid that to me looked underage, so I approached to get a better idea of what was going on.
"I'm about 9 inches off the ground [on the Segway], and even from a bit further away I was able to notice that the back passenger was wearing latex gloves."
Miguez spotted that the vehicle's other passenger also sported latex gloves, and the driver had slipped on print-foiling construction gloves. Miguez continued: "It wasn't a summer day but it had to be 80 degrees that day and I asked them what the gloves were all about. And that's when they all ripped off their gloves and he floored it. I gave pursuit on the Segway."
Given that the Segway's top speed is a non-white-knuckle 12.5mph, you might imagine the Merc could make a rapid getaway. This, however, would be to underestimate the kind of pursuit skills which perfectly complement Long Beach police's enlightened transportation policy. Miguez was able to keep the car in sight for two blocks until the Segway's relentless progress evidently unnerved the car's occupants, who "leaped out of the moving car to escape just moments before it jumped a curb and struck a utility pole".
Miguez quickly apprehended the 13-year-old driver, who named his two accomplices. Once the gang had been rounded up, the trio were "charged with juvenile delinquency".
Long Beach has had two Segways on trial since May after the powers that be decided "they would prove handy in patrolling the 2.2-mile-long boardwalk during the summer beach season".
The advantages include, according to the department's public relations officer Lt. Bruce Meyer, that the lightweight vehicles "saves the [boardwalk's] wooden structure from the heavier weight of police sedans".
Meyer justifiably added: "Also, the fact that it's an unconventional element of patrol adds the element of surprise. People aren't expecting it." ®