The T3 is a Segway-like electric vehicle, but with a stronger, sturdier build. Officers ride it standing up and can help monitor areas of the campus that aren’t accessible in patrol cars, such as parking structures, the perimeters of university buildings and housing residencies.
“We can be more effective on the T3s in getting to locations which would require parking the patrol car (with) quite a ways … to walk,” University Police Department Sergeant Larry Ponting said.
The vehicles, made by the company T3 Motion, cost anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 each and come complete with lights, sirens and a glove box for emergency equipment. The UPD purchased two T3s about two months ago.
The T3s can climb hills and travel up to 18 miles per hour, which is faster than the bicycles that the department also use as a means of patrolling the campus.
Commander Lori Hashim said that the T3s allow for positive, approachable encounters with students and faculty. Officers frequently comment on how many students stop them and want to talk about the new mode of transportation, she said.
“It really opens the waves of communication,” Hashim added.
The T3s are not a replacement for the conventional patrol car that police rely on for their speed when traveling long distances, she said.
“It is an alternative mode of transportation that helps lessen pollution,” she said. “This is obviously a way that Cal Poly further promotes ‘going green’ and we are all really excited about it.”
Sidewalks and narrow paths on campus are a few of the newly-accessible areas for police riding the T3s. Ponting said that police officers are fortunate to be able to reach smaller areas on campus where people walk alone in the dark.
“We can provide some safety and security for students,” he said. “We know that students take alternative routes because they can mean shorter trips, so we try to patrol spots not lit on campus in the evening the best we can.”
Ponting said that part of a police officers’ duty is getting off the vehicles and communicating with the students, staff and faculty members.
“We want to make ourselves seen more frequently and not just by the wheel of a car,” Pointing said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity to be able to be more personal with everybody … you can just drive right up to students and talk.”
Hashim said that overall student feedback is positive.
“Most of the students that police officers have talked to just love the vehicles. We now have the chance to talk to students who probably wouldn’t have stopped if we weren’t on the T3s,” she said.