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High tech chariot brings 21st century policing to CSUEB


Officer Dan Larsen patrols the Hayward Campus in UPD's new T3 electric standup vehicle. (Photo: Lydia Choi)

  • September 28, 2011

A sleek, silent, three-wheeled electric vehicle with a striking chariot-like profile and black and white police markings is the new face of greener, friendlier campus patrols at CSUEB.

First seen on Cal State East Bay's Hayward campus this summer, the electric stand-up vehicle, known as a T3, was put into service by the University Police Department (UPD) after evaluating its aging vehicle fleet of full-sized Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers and considering key goals for safety, flexibility, cost and energy efficiency, and more visible, approachable policing.

In addition to zero emissions and low operating costs of about 10 cents per day, the T3 offers UPD fast access to inner-campus areas not easily reached by standard patrol cars. Additionally, the T3 allows officers to safely enter areas with heavy foot traffic, said Interim Police Chief James Hodges.

Most importantly, the open and quiet T3 makes officers approachable and non-threatening, Hodges said.

"It invites two-way conversations between the campus community and the officer, which can play an important role in developing positive community relations with faculty, staff, and students," he said.

"The T3 is a great addition," he said. "But it doesn't replace UPD's standard patrol cruisers; it supplements our fleet."

He noted that the 300-pound vehicle, which can travel at speeds up to 20 miles per hour, can take over some tasks previously handled using a patrol cruiser, such as event crowd control, while "performing them more safely and efficiently (and) doing less damage to the environment."

Equipped with siren, high-intensity LED headlights and a prominent police-star badge, the three-wheeled, open-air vehicle offers the driver a stable platform at all speeds and high visibility. That means the patrol officer can be seen and identified easily and also has an improved vantage point from the elevated platform, said Hodges.

According to manufacturer T3 Motion Inc.’s specifications, the vehicle's energy-efficient electric motor gets approximately 500 miles per gallon. And by using easily swapped, rechargeable batteries, the T3 offers "an almost unlimited range."

T3s are used by law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S., as well as by a growing number of colleges and universities, sporting venues and businesses. Three other CSUs, Northridge, Long Beach and San Bernardino, use them. In the Bay Area, T3s patrol Ohlone College in Fremont and Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton.

Although some university campuses have multiple T3s in service — the University of Southern California has 28 — one is adequate for CSUEB, "based on our size, population, and event calendar," Hodges said.

"I would like to consider an additional unit sometime in the future to supplement our presence at the Concord Campus," he added.

UPD considers the $10,000 cost of a new T3 to be a smart investment, Hodges said.

"In addition to being the most energy efficient way to move UPD personnel from one part of campus to another without producing environmentally harmful gas emissions, the T3 allows our officers to better connect with the community while working to keep it safe," he said.

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