Carl Monday Investigation: dirt bike, ATV crackdown in Cleveland: Parts 1 & 2
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It's a dangerous lifestyle gaining popularity in the city of Cleveland and throughout the nation.
Illegal dirt bikes and four-wheelers (ATVs) are taking over city streets and interstate systems in packs, popping wheelies, performing dangerous stunts and weaving in and out of traffic.
The Cleveland 19 Investigative Unit was the only local media station embedded with law enforcement last weekend, capturing the crackdown first-hand as a dirt bike crashed into an OSHP cruiser with our producer inside.
Cleveland Police are trying to contain the herds of riders, but their hands are tied due to their police pursuit policy, updated after the 2012 police chase and shootings of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.
Chief Investigator Carl Monday and his investigative team reached out to Mayor Frank Jackson's office on five separate occasions looking for a response to the dangerous and illegal bike and ATV life in Cleveland. They've asked for a statement from Mayor Jackson, Police Chief Calvin Williams and Safety Director Michael McGrath.
Several days later, the Cleveland Division of Police sent this response:
"Members of the Cleveland Division of Police, in a partnered effort with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, have developed a strategic plan to bring an end to this activity. It is important that residents continue to partner with law enforcement by providing information to investigators so that we can continue to address this dangerous trend."
''Operation Rabbit' was just the beginning of this new law enforcement crack down. While Cleveland Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) continue their initiatives, Cleveland Police officers on the street continue to be taunted, as the riders know they can't pursue them. Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association Union President Steve Loomis tells Cleveland 19 that "officers lack the backing of City Hall to go after bikers" and that "our officers are being told to not engage them in any way, shape or form."
Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed, whose ward houses the Mount Pleasant Wheelie Kings agrees, saying " When you send the message that we're not going to chase you, it's a bad message to send." Councilman Reed admits his ward located in Cleveland's Fourth District has a problem with these lawless, reckless riders. " They're terrorists. They run through our neighborhoods terrorizing our ward, terrorizing our community. They just ride up and down the street, constantly. They're obnoxious, they're arrogant. They're just no good players rolling up and down our communities" says Reed.
It's important to note that not all dirt bikes are illegal to ride on city streets and interstate systems. Ohio State Highway Patrol Cleveland Post Commander Lt. Travis Hughes says bikes that are plated, have mirrors, lights and follow all of the licensing standards and requirements are legal. But there is a process for all of that. Those dirt bikes are not the problem. "These are not the bikes that we are dealing with. We are dealing with four wheelers, we are dealing with dirt bikes that are designed to be ridden outside on a track somewhere" says Lt. Hughes. "We are not talking about 1 or 2 ATVs or dirt bikes, we are talking about for certain instances or videos we've seen, upwards of fifty to sixty ATVs and dirt bikes that are actually out driving on interstate systems and then upon exiting the ramps, they seem to inundate and take over local gas stations when they do."
Lt. Travis Hughes has a strong message for these lawless, reckless riders. "If you want to go ride ATVs or dirt bikes, there are placed designated for that such as tracks or other placed for them to ride. The city streets, the interstate systems and disregarding all traffic laws...that's not the time or the place for it."
CPPA President Steve Loomis says more needs to be done. "The Mayor needs to step up, the Safety Director needs to step up and I think it's more the Safety Director than anyone" says Loomis, "The last thing that the Mayor wants to deal with, I'm sure, is one of these children on these motorcycles getting hit, getting bounced off of the side of a police car."
Click here for more information on how to properly register your dirt bike or ATV.
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