DeWitt: Mall gets 'wheel' secure

What initiates stares, generates questions and offers a fun, new approach to safety? ShoppingTown's latest security device: the Segway Transporter.

Most often found in larger, pedestrian-friendly cities, the eco-friendly Segway -- a two-wheeled, self-balancing, electric transportation device -- can now be seen at ShoppingTown Mall.

Macerich, the company that owns the mall along with several other retail properties, purchased 12 Segways -- nine for the West Coast; three for the East Coast -- after doing a test study that found them to be incredibly efficient.

"We found it was an amazing tool and they were very interactive," said Mark Fedorich, security and guest services manager. "They made our jobs a lot easier to interact with people who work in the stores and with shoppers."

Marketing Manager Nanette Carbone said the new addition is a great enhancement to guest services, as officers can still stop to talk, assist with directions, and help customers in any way on a much more effective level.

Looking forward, Macerich chose ShoppingTown as one of its first Segway recipients because of its upcoming plans to transform into a hybrid mall. The officers can patrol the parking lot, the sidewalk and then transition back into the common area inside. Rain and snow are the only two factors that will prevent the use of this totally "green" device outdoors as inclement weather could cause computer or battery problems.

Relatively speedy

So what makes this device so special?

For one, it's much quicker to ride the roller than to walk around the mall. The variable speed allows trained operators to go as fast as 12 1/2 miles per hour if needed.

Fedorich said that during Segway training at a mall in California, one security officer walked the entire mall in 53 minutes. The same officer, after being trained on the Segway, toured the same route and finished in record time: just 17 minutes.

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