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Alternative Modes Of Transport Pick Up Speed At Duke, RDU

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DURHAM,N.C. — Police are always looking for innovative ways to combat crime. Two local departments have at least found a creative way to get around.

Campus police at Duke University got battery-charged Segways a few weeks ago.

The vehicle has two wheels, travels a top speed of 12.5 mph and turns heads just about everywhere on campus.

"It just seems pretty awesome," said a Duke student.

"Sometimes, when I'm out on the street, people drive up and ask if I want to race," Duke police Officer Anthony Rush said.

The two wheelers help officers maneuver in and out of tight spaces.

"It's small enough where I can go anywhere," Rush said. "I've actually gone into buildings."

There is one thing the officers are a bit sensitive about -- do not call the vehicle a scooter.

For the past two years, officers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, have been using the more traditional-style scooters.

"It gives us quicker response times to things going on inside the terminals," said Sgt. John Pegram of the RDU International Police Department.

Pegram said the scooters also give the appearance of larger police presence.

"I can go multiple places in a short amount of time and the passengers may think they've seen three or four officers when they've only seen one," he said.

The scooters are also quite the conversation piece.

"Some [people] fall out on the floor laughing," Pegram said. "Others say,'Hey, I need that!'"

At RDU International, officers are used to the laughs. At Duke, the Segway scuttlebutt is just beginning to pick up speed.

Duke is the first police department in the state to use Segways. The two wheelers are used by officers in Atlanta, Chicago and New York.