Segways Arrive On Campus
By Cynthia Gonzales
Paul Blart has nothing on the University of Houston-Downtown Police Department (UHDPD) Segway officers.
Their Segway-game is strong.
Officers Lisa Barajas and Aaron Lake-Garcia are well-trained on the University’s recent acquistion of Segways.
“We do get our share of Paul Blart jokes,” Lake-Garcia said as he zipped around on one of the two new Segways that the department acquired over the summer.
According to UHDPD Chief Michael Benford, the department has wanted to implement a campus Segway program for over a year.
“We've been discussing about the feasibility of a Segway program to determine if it would be a good fit in our fleet,” said Benford."UHD’s student population and the volume of pedestrian traffic also influenced the decision to launch the pilot program last summer."
UHD's Segway program was modeled after Houston's Metro Police program, which is a very large Segway program covering bus routes, terminals and Metro Rail platforms, Benford noted. The chief also invited Metro’s lead instructor to campus to deliver a Segway demo for his team.
“We thought it would be a good asset and give more visibility and mobility in and around campus,” he said.
“We saw their ability to operate in close spaces especially around crowded areas as well as all the bike trails and parking areas we have surrounding our campus..”
The Segways stand about two feet higher than a standing officer’s height which gives officers a better vantage point when policing a crowd. There are plans to acquire two more in the upcoming fiscal year.
“Anytime you can increase officer visibility, it give us a better response time than being on foot,” said Benford, “Plus, it provides our officers another level of protection."
Benford also noted another benefit—campus community engagement.
“The response has been very positive,” Benford said, “When you see officers on Segways it immediately becomes a conversation piece. You’re not just seeing them drive around. You can walk side by side and have a conversation with the officers."
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.