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September 03, 2007
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Chicago officer on Segway nabs shooting suspect

Scooter hit top speed of 12.5 mph.

By Frank Main
The Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Chicago Police Officer Thaddeus Martyka was riding his Segway Human Transporter looking for parking violations when he heard the shot ring out.

Martyka, traveling north on State Street on Sunday, saw two young men sprint west on 21st Street and the chase was on.

The Segway, a scooter that looks like an old-fashioned push lawn mower with big rubber wheels, hit its top speed of 12.5 mph.

One suspect broke away on Wabash, but Martyka kept tailing the other man until he tired out on the sidewalk.

Martyka set down the Segway and handcuffed the man about 4:27 p.m. at 23rd and State. He radioed fellow officers to pick up a .25-caliber pistol the man allegedly tossed in an alley during the chase.

It was the first arrest the 17-year veteran has made on a Segway. He has been riding the scooters since he arrived in the Central District about a month ago. Martyka also patrolled on them when he was assigned to O'Hare Airport.

"This is the first time I can recall that the officer used it to chase somebody down," Central District Cmdr. Kevin Ryan said.

Second suspect sought
The shooting victim wounded in the buttocks in a personal dispute is recovering in a local hospital, Ryan said. Police would not identify the man arrested because he has not been charged. Officers were searching for the second suspect.

The Chicago Police have 29 Segways 14 of which operate in the Central District, bordered roughly by the Chicago River, the Dan Ryan Expy., 25th Street and Lake Michigan.

They were first tested in the Central District in 2002.

They've become a common sight at events such as the Chicago Jazz Festival, where officers used them Sunday night to watch the crowds. An estimated 315,000 attended the four-day music festival that wrapped up in Grant Park, officials said.

Now Segways have proved valuable in chasing crooks.

"These don't wear down people do," Ryan said.

Copyright 2007 Chicago Tribune

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