UK police hum right along on new rides

As Joe Monroe, the University of Kentucky's interim police chief, was talking, one of his officers roared up on a motorcycle.

No, that's not right.

As Monroe was talking, one of his officers whined up on a motorcycle.

There, that's better.

UK Police, whose officers get around campus on bicycles, golf carts, Harley-Davidsons and in patrol cars, unveiled a new "Born to be Mild" mode Monday: electric motorcycles.

The department has joined about a dozen police agencies across the country with its two new Polish-made Vectrix motorcycles.

The machines make a low whining or humming sound, and have no exhaust.

They accelerate from 0 to 55 mph in 6.8 seconds, have a top speed of 62 mph and cost about a penny a mile to operate.

They recharge by plugging into household current. They also recharge as they are braking. They can travel 35 to 55 miles on a charge. Monroe says that is about as much as they will need to complete a shift.

The two Vectrixes have been in use for a couple of weeks, Monroe said. They got a good workout at Saturday's football game.

"We're not going to use this kind of vehicle for traffic enforcement," Monroe said. "This is more for the tight locations on campus."

He also said students will be more likely to approach officers who are sitting on the relatively quiet machines.

The machines cost $10,000 each. Monroe says they will pay for themselves in the first year by allowing the department to park a patrol car.

The New York City Police Department probably has the most Vectrixes, Monroe said.

Eastern Kentucky University has one. They also are used by Penn State University police, Amherst College police and Scotland airport police in the United Kingdom.