The Orange County Sheriff's Office is adding 4 Segways to its fleet at the convention center, at a cost of $40,500, after receiving a grant from the federal government. Sheriff's Office Lt. Vincent Van Ness says they have been using 2 Segways there for years.
"Our Segways are wearing out."
One is broken, and the other in need of repair. Van Ness says the Segways are essential to the mission of deputies there. The office has to cover more than 7 million square feet of convention space.
"Just under a half-mile long end to end, so it takes a long time to get around on foot, especially when you fill it with 50,000 people."
Van Ness says the Segways cut response times dramatically and make a huge difference. They can even save lives if a deputy has a automated external defibrillator, or AED, in case of a heart attack.
"The Segway can do about 15 miles an hour. It can turn on a dime. It can negotiate obstacles much faster than any form of wheeled transportation."
We got a mixed reaction on the streets when asking about the spending.
Ariel found it ridiculous, saying it was money that was, "Definitely wasted. For their convenience? It's definitely a waste."
Robert liked the idea. "I think it's worth it," he said, "because we need safety, and with all of the crime going on, we need money to help the Sheriffs do their job."
Lt. Van Ness tells us the increased visibility of a Segway helps deputies stand out in an area where the region absolutely can not afford crime.
"We don't have a lot of crime here, and one of the reasons is, we have a deputy that can do 15 miles an hour that is two feet taller than everybody, rolling around on a Segway."
Bradley found it upsetting that each Segway will cost $10,000, paid for with federal tax money.
"There's different ways to do that instead of buying such a high dollar item when the economy is what it is, and we're trying to cut back," he said. "A lot of people buy used vehicles for a lot less than 10 grand!"
Bicycles would have come in thousands of dollars cheaper, but the convention center does not allow bicycles to be ridden indoors at their facilities. The $40,500 dollar cost also includes some maintenance on the machines once the warranty expires.