Cleveland Police launch dirt bike force to combat disruptive, elusive riders

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Many have seen those dirt bikes and ATVs racing up and down the highway and in some east side communities.

Now, Cleveland police officers are now equipped with bikes of their own to help catch the disruptive riders.

"This a dual purpose motorcycle. So, it is designed to be ridden on and off road," said dirt bike patrol officer Frank Leyva.

That means no matter where dirt bikers go the police can remain in hot pursuit.

"I have specialized tires here with, novae tires, which will give me traction for off-road use in gravel, dirt or mud," he said.

The Cleveland Police Department has three BMW 650s, and more specialized bikes are on the way. Officers have received at least 80 hours of training in California, plus additional training here on the streets of Cleveland.

"They've been causing problems as far as riding in large groups, blowing stop signs and stop lights," said Leyva.

That's what happened at the intersection of East 65th Street and Quimby Ave.

Phyllis Ivory saw a dirt bike rider run a stop sign and smash into a car that had the right of way.

His body was thrown at 20 feet in the air.

"In August of last year, a young man was riding a dirt bike. He was riding down the wrong way on a one-way street, unaware to catch up with others and in the process he hit a car and lost his life. That is something I never want to see again," said Ivory.

Leyva has a body cam that can be mounted on his shoulder or helmet.

"So, everywhere that I look the camera will look so I can the suspect that riding the illegal bike on video for evidence for when we go to court," he said.

James Muhic, the Traffic commissioner from CPD says this gives the department a better chance to stop the rude riders from putting themselves and others at risk.

"If we're able to identify offenders even though we're not able to apprehend them we're going back and issuing warrants summons for them," said Muhic.

According to Leyva, if bikers stop and do not attempt to elude authorities, they'll likely just receive misdemeanor charges.

If they try and escape police, it's automatically bumped up to a felony.

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