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Operation ‘Wheels Down’: 15 felony arrests made from Cleveland Police, OSHP initiative

City leaders crack down on illegal ATVs, dirt bikes and joy riders
Published: May. 21, 2022 at 9:42 PM EDT
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JUNE 25, 2022 UPDATE: Suspects on dirt bike lead police on high-speed chase through Cleveland’s West Side (video)

JUNE 17, 2022 UPDATE: New video released from Operation ‘Wheels Down’ in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Cleveland Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s joint initiative, titled “Operation Wheels Down”, resulted in 15 felony arrests, 30 citations and 15 confiscated vehicles during a law enforcement sting on May 21, according to Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia of the Cleveland Police Department.

The initiative was created by the City of Cleveland and state law enforcement agencies to develop and put strategies into place after increases in off-road vehicles being used on city streets, according to a press release.

The Bureau of Traffic, the Aviation Unit, the Neighborhood Impact Community Engagement Unit, the Gang Impact Unit, and the Real Time Crime Center were involved in the operation, the press release said.

Two firearms were also recovered during the sting, officials confirmed.

It’s a problem that leaders have been talking about for a while.

Cleveland City Council’s Safety Committee met May 11 and said the problem is a top priority.

“They are just overtaking intersections and causing chaos from one end of the city to the other,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley. “At some point, somebody’s gonna get killed. I was riding down the towpath in Tremont and I was overtaken by 3 dirt bikes and an ATV doing wheelies down a bike path,” he said.

The Safety Committee will present an ordinance to City Council next month aimed to stop ATVs, dirt bikes and joy riders from taking over city streets.

“The City remains committed to ensuring that law enforcement has the resources necessary to continue to enforce laws and ensure safety on our streets and within our neighborhoods,” the statement said.

City Councilmember Michael Polensek said he is “glad” to see police starting to take action.

“I hope this is just the beginning of real and meaningful traffic enforcement in our neighborhoods across the city,” he said.

Cleveland officials have asked for the community’s help by calling 911 in an emergency, 216-621-1234 in a non-emergency, or by calling Crimestoppers at 216-25-CRIME to provide a tip anonymously.

Police said a cash reward may also be available.

19 News was informed by the Cleveland Police Department there were no fatalities or injuries reported during the operation.

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