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Wheeling Police Department Hits Streets On New Trikke Vehicles

Photo by Eric Ayres Wheeling Police Officers Detective Dean Redinger and Cpl. Ben Young, from left, showcase the department’s new Trikke Police Specialty Vehicles on Tuesday.

WHEELING — Members of the Wheeling Police Department were turning heads downtown on Tuesday as officers continued training on the newest, cutting-edge additions to the department’s bicycle unit.

Manufactured by Trikke Professional Mobility, the new Police Interceptor Personal 3WD Vehicles — or trikkes for short — are personal electric vehicles ready for police tasks when a typical police car is not the best option.

Two new trikkes were purchased for the department, thanks to an anonymous donor in the community.

Each new trikke costs about $8,500, and the department was able to get a backup battery for both units, and officials thanked the anonymous donors for making the new acquisition possible.

“We approached them about these vehicles, and they loved them just as much as we did,” Lt. Josh Sanders said.

The trikkes are fast, agile and virtually silent three-wheeled electric scooters, complete with a police package featuring lights and sirens.

They have a 60-volt battery, which equates to about 2,000 watts of power, and are eco-friendly. A fully charged battery will last about eight hours or will take the rider for a distance of about 30 miles, depending on the power setting selected, officers said.

Wheeling Police officials first saw the units displayed during a recent police conference, and they were able to test drive the trikkes there.

“Immediately upon trying them, we thought they were really cool — but then we started thinking about the community engagement aspect of these and the tactical advantage of a device like this,” Lt. Josh Sanders said.

Now that events with crowds have finally returned in the city after the past year’s COVID social distancing, the new units will be utilized a great deal during outdoor concerts, festivals and other special events at Heritage Port and around town.

“We’ve already had them out at Waterfront Wednesdays and the Movie Night in Warwood last week,” Sanders said. “They will be out for the Fourth of July and the Italian Festival — all of those special events and anywhere that we may have a broader spectrum of mobile response. Usually we’re on foot — but this will give us a quicker response during festivals and those types of larger gatherings.”

Sanders said mastering the trikkes requires a fair amount of training. Four officers were being trained on Tuesday, bringing to the current total to six trikke-trained officers in the department, with more officers expected to undergo training in the future.

“It takes a lot of body control — not necessarily balance, but stability — just knowing how to transfer your weight from side-to-side and front-to-back,” Sanders said. “Yet, unlike a bicycle, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to operate.”

While like the police bicycle units, the trikkes are operated seasonally and are not expected to be utilized during the winter months. Otherwise, the units can go almost everywhere across different terrains — up hills and even down stairs. The top speed is about 37 miles per hour on the police-style trikkes, which come equipped with bigger batteries and bulkier frames than commercial versions of these units. The near-silent electric motors also allow officers to be more alert to their surroundings while on patrol.

“It’s just another tool in the tool belt,” Sgt. Rob Safreed said. “They’re very fun to ride, and I think it’ll be a really good tool for community outreach. You’ll be able to get out there in the community more, and people see you more. Plus, they can really extend the range of a typical foot patrol.”

Sanders said Wheeling Police already have had a positive impact in the area over the past couple of weeks while officers have been practicing with them.

“Everybody wants to know what they are,” he said. “So community engagement is almost instant by just having the ability to stop, have a conversation and have a positive interaction.”

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