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Chicago Police to Patrol Airports in Segway Transporters

Police patrolling Chicago's airports are going to get some high-tech help.

The city has signed a $128,000 contract to buy 28 Segway Human Transporters for officers assigned to terminal patrol at Midway Airport and O'Hare International Airport, officials said.

"They're the best of both worlds, with the mobility of a squad car but the personal contact with citizens of a foot patrol," said Cmdr. Steve Peterson, who was in charge of police at the airports when Segways went through testing.

The machines are two-wheeled, self-balancing, electric-powered scooters. They were unveiled in late 2001 by Manchester, N.H.-based Segway LLC.

The order is one of the biggest by a city since the machines were introduced, company spokeswoman Carla Vallone said. Other cities that have purchased the machines include Atlanta and Seattle, Vallone said.

Most orders have been for police use, she said.

With a top speed of about 12.5 mph, officers aboard Segways during last year's test at O'Hare could get to an emergency call much faster than someone on foot, without alarming passengers, Peterson said.

"You get there faster than you can run, and nobody thinks twice about it," Peterson said.

He said that people also react to the machines in a positive way.

"If you are coming to a stop or going slow, they come up and talk to you about them. They're a great icebreaker," Peterson said.

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