Police incorporate electric sentinels into routine

University police will be updating their technology with another “mode of transportation”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2011/03/purchased_bikes_and_new_equipment_improve_police_patrol this year: electric sentinels.

Due to a $10,000 donation from the Moms Association, the police have purchased two electric sentinels. These three-wheeled vehicles are similar to Segways, or personal transportation scooters, but are more stable, said University police captain Skip Frost.

“(The sentinel) has three wheels so that you don’t need to balance it,” he said.

The new sentinels are also equipped specifically for police work.

“It does have red lights and a siren, and it does say ‘Police’ on it. It also has a little PA speaker,” Frost said.

The main goal in using the sentinels is allowing the members of the Champaign-Urbana campus community to “feel as though the police are a present and active force”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2010/12/student_senate_passes_resolution_for_more_safety_on_campus, he added.

“We want officers to be out of their cars. We also want them to be highly visible,” Frost said.

While there are several advantages in using the sentinels, Frost said the biggest advantage is mobility.

“After you walk for an hour, you tend to get tired, and you’re a little less mobile. But on the sentinels, (officers) will be able to cover a large part of Campustown,” he said.

Frost said that the most important part of being more mobile on the sentinels is to have the “ability to go where squad cars cannot”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2010/12/big_ten_police_chiefs_meet_share_crimereducing_strategies.

“We just want our officers to be out in the nooks and crannies, so to speak, because a lot of things you just can’t see from a squad car,” Frost said.

Melody Pedraza, junior in AHS, said she agrees that the sentinels will be helpful.

“I think if they’re using a police car it will be easier for them to go around campus and see stuff, but the sentinel can also help them in closed areas where the car cannot go,” she said.

Frost also added that despite their size and use of electric power, the sentinels are not to be underestimated.

“They will move at a pretty great clip,” he said.

Frost mentioned that while most often people are hesitant to talk to police officers, the sentinels have become wonderful conversation starters.

“Everyone wants to talk about these sentinels, they’re really cool,” he said.

Beyond their everyday use by police officers, the sentinels will also be used by SafeWalks. Frost said he believes the sentinels will aid the student patrol officers.

“If they’re on a sentinel, it just gives that added aura of authority and presence,” he said.