CRYSTAL LAKE – Dean Solberg saw a Crystal Lake Park District officer on the wrong set of two wheels.
As park district officer Randy Baudin biked his way down the parade route during the Crystal Lake Fourth of July celebration, Solberg couldn't help but wonder why Baudin was bicycling when he could be on the Segway Solberg's Rotary Club of Crystal Lake Dawnbreakers helped purchase for the department a few years ago.
After discovering that one of the battery packs for the Segway was broken, Solberg was quick to rally his Rotarians to provide the $900 needed for a new battery.
Baudin said the department would not have been able to come up with the funds to get the off-road Segway back in commission.
"It's hard to justify that cost when there are uniforms and radios and other expenses," Baudin said. "It was a huge help to us."
Baudin said while the Segway could seem like a luxury and looks humorous, it has been a valuable asset in policing festivals and performing patrols. The stand-up motorized device allows officers to see over crowds and travel up to 12 miles an hour if they need to get to a location quickly.
Because it is not enclosed, it also allows officers to hear what is going on around them. Baudin said the first time the Segway was used was at a Blast on the Beach event where it helped officers locate lost children.
"Not only does it help us do our job, but it's a pretty odd thing people don't see everyday, so we become a lot more approachable because they want to ask about it," Baudin said. "So from that standpoint, it is a bit of a community relations tool, too."
Solberg said the Dawnbreakers were glad to help and provide another tool to increase public safety in the community. The Dawnbreakers recently bought three bicycles for the Crystal Lake Police Department, as well.
"We identify four or five charities each year that we can give four, five or six thousand [dollars] to," Solberg said. "We can fill in little projects like this with whatever we have left to disperse."
In its 25 years, the Dawnbreakers have given $1.1 million to community organizations.