Call them gizmos. Or call them rollers.
Their official name is “Sentinel Police Mobility Vehicles,” or PMVs, and Richland County Sheriff’s Department is apparently the first law enforcement agency in South Carolina to land the electric-powered, three-wheel vehicles.
“We have the whole underground parking garage at the (Richland County) courthouse we have to patrol, and we will use one of them there,” Sheriff Leon Lott said Wednesday.
“This gives us a faster way of getting around than on foot, and it’s 100-percent electric, so that will save us money,” Lott said.
Plus, being electric means the gizmos don’t make noise, so suspected wrongdoers might not hear them coming. That could make arrests a little easier.
The PMVs are equipped with blue lights, sirens, and a bullhorn hookup. Its top speed is 25 mph, but it can be operated at turtle-like speed. They typically will be run at about 6 mph, especially when used around crowds, Lott said.
“It can do the job,” said Lott, just after taking a spin around the sheriff’s department parking lot Wednesday morning.
Another will likely be used around the county administration building, with its large parking garage, on Harden Street, and at fairs like the Sparkleberry Fair, the Lower Richland Sweet Potato Fair, St. Patrick’s and the State Fair, Lott said.
“Wherever there are large crowds, it will give us the ability to get around quickly,” Lott said.
Lott saw the vehicles demonstrated at a national police convention he attended a few years ago. They are not as clunky as golf-cart sized vehicles, and they are safer and more stable than the two-wheeled Segway rollers that some police departments use, Lott said.
They cost about $9,000 each and are American-made – they’re manufactured in Las Vegas by Xtreme Green Electric Vehicles, Lott said.
An Extreme Green representative said it takes about three to four hours of training for an officer to learn to ride it safely. It can go in reverse and turn on its own radius.
The electric power, with an iron phosphate lithium battery, will charge on a regular outlet and allow the PMV to travel some 80 miles on one charge.