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City officials, police review plug-in patrol unit
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 Covington Mayor Kim Carter had a smile on her face as she whizzed around on a three-wheeled "scooter" in the Covington Police Station parking lot.

 But this wasn't just any scooter. This was the T3 - a zero-emissions, battery powered electric vehicle specially designed for public safety patrol.

 City officials and Covington Police Department heads took a look at the vehicle Thursday in an effort to find fuel conserving, energy efficient modes of transportation.

 "We're constantly trying to find ways to deal with the fuel problem," said Carter.

 During a time when the CPD gas budget increased by a quarter for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the T3's promise of an operational cost of 10 cents a shift is mighty appealing to many municipalities.

CPD Chief Cotton said an electric vehicle such as this might be ideal for community policing, policing of events on the Square and other crowded spaces and for use in everyday short trips, such as from the police station to City Hall. Officers might also use it for places where they would want to have a low key presence, such as trying to catch thieves in a shopping center parking lot.

Currently, officers handle such situations mostly on foot, he said, since the department doesn't use bicycles much.

"We're really in the early stages of figuring out where we can use it," said Cotton. He added that officers are already doing what they can to conserve fuel, by patrolling more on foot and turning off their engines when idling.

Carter said she first noticed the T3 - a Segway-like three-wheeled electric vehicle vaguely resembling a Roman chariot but designed specially for public safety enforcement - at the Georgia Municipal Association conference.

Mac Brown, vice president of Interceptor, the vehicle's seller in the southeast, said 75 units have been sold since February to various agencies in places like Hilton Head, Columbia, S.C., Lee County, Ala., Forsyth, and Auburn University.

The vehicle costs $10,000, is designed to comfortably hold one or two people standing upright, and has a battery life of approximately eight hours at a time, depending on usage, according to Brown.

The T3 has a top speed of 18 miles per hour, 1.5 brake horsepower, lights, sirens and the ability to hold up to 450 pounds, and plenty of "cool" factor, judging by the grins on riders' faces.

During a product demonstration, vehicle failed to climb a curb but rolled over the grass reasonably well and sang down the streets at 19 miles per hour, just enough to create a rush of wind.

Other electric vehicles on the market available for public safety patrolling include the Segway and another type of electric vehicle that has a bit more holding room.

Carter also speculated electric vehicles could be used for public works situations, such as short trips and deliveries.