Butler University Police Department is testing an electric scooter as a possible option for another patrol vehicle.
The Vectrix scooter is 100 percent electric, traveling about 55 miles on one charge, Chief of Police Ben Hunter said.
“I’m always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint and that’s important,” he said. “But, it’s secondary to the fact that I want to save money.”
The Vectrix scooters would cost between $7,500 and $8,500.
Hunter said the scooters would be a one time only cost.
“It’s no gas. That’s why I love it. That’s why I love the segways. The segways were a great investment for us,” he said.
BUPD purchased two segways at the beginning of the last school year.
Hunter said the segways each have about a thousand miles on them.
“That’s a thousand miles in gas that I didn’t have to pay for,” he said.
Assistant Chief of Police Andrew Ryan said that the segways have their limitations.
“You can only go certain places and only get there so fast,” he said.
Hunter said the segway has a top speed of 12 miles per hour, but the Vectrix wouldn’t have that drawback.
“It goes from zero to 68 in 5.5 seconds,” Hunter said.
He said that the Vectrix is actually considered a motorcycle under Indiana law.
“I’ve never seen a scooter go 70 miles per hour,” Hunter said.
The Vectrix scooter even has advantages over the traditional squad car.
Hunter said, “It has a life expectancy of 10 or more years, unlike a police car where the life expectancy is about 4 to 5 years on a good cycle.”
Hunter said the scooters main maintenance concerns are the tires and brakes.
“They virtually are maintenance free,” he said.
Ryan said the scooter would offer better visibility for the community than a patrol car.
“Historically, we’ve been in patrol cars,” he said. “People would say ‘we never see BUPD.’ Then we got the segways.
“When people see the segways, it encourages interaction between our staff and the university population in general because people are curious about them.
“I think the Vectrix would be the same sort of thing.”
Ryan said the scooters would offer good visibility for BUPD.
“Visibility is a key thing for us,” he said.
Ryan is also concerned about how the way the public would perceive the scooters.
“I think that would look extremely outrageous if they had these scooters because they already have the segways that are quite outrageous as well,” sophomore Gina Vera said.
“Since they’re electric it would be for a good cause, but I’m not sure if they need them.”
Sophomore Jamie Ostrem is less than concerned.
“If they let me ride it, I’m okay with it,” she said.
But there is another catch.
“Now the big drawback for us is that we would only be able to use it nine or 10 months out of the year,” Hunter said.
“You can’t use them in the winter when ice is on the ground.”
Ryan said he also has a safety concern.
“It’s not a patrol car,” he said.
“There is a certain skill to driving these.
“We want to make sure the people driving them are taking them seriously and aren’t getting too relaxed.
“Not that the scooters are dangerous, but I suppose you could fall off a segway too.”
Hunter isn’t sure whether or not BUPD will invest in one of the scooters.
“It has trade-offs and I don’t know that we will definitely purchase one but it was neat testing it,” he said.
“It’s on my radar to possible look at in the future.”