Cleveland cops cracking down on illegal dirt bikes

Cleveland cops cracking down on illegal dirt bikes

CLEVELAND - It's a wake-up call for anyone illegally riding dirt bikes on Cleveland streets.

Some police officers are now on two wheels themselves, making more arrests. On Monday, city council cleared the way for more.

Council members passed legislation to "crack down" on off-road vehicles because they flat-out aren't street legal.

The legislation specifically prohibits “trick or stunt driving, speeding and wheelies by those who recklessly speed through neighborhoods, scaring residents and intimidating law-abiding drivers."

Police say they are already better poised to bust them riding dirt bikes of their own.

Dirt bikes and ATVs are illegal on the streets of Cleveland.

Still, there are more of them than ever doing stunts and trick riding.

Motorists and homeowners are caught in the middle of it all.

"There were six of them riding their ATVs and dirt bikes and the police was right at the corner. Didn't even move. Didn't look at them didn't do nothing,” Cleveland resident Vernon Kittrel told Channel 3 News back in May.

It used to be that police policy was to not chase dirt bikes in police cruisers because it was too dangerous. Officers say it was often ineffective, too.

"The minute the motorcycle would jump a curb they are out of the race," says Cleveland Police Traffic Commissioner James Muhic.

Muhic adds, the drivers of illegal bikes knew it. Sometimes dirt bike riders even taunt police, he says.

Sometimes daredevils on dirt bikes literally take over entire streets.

Sometimes it's over for the rider.  2 fatalities this year.

Well, that was then.

This is now.

3 Cleveland police officers are now trained on their OWN dirt bikes.

“If you take off and we put a bike behind ya, you go off road up the railroad tracks, we're going right there with you," says Muhic.

Since spring, Cleveland Police on dirt bikes have been making arrests and ticketing for things like reckless operation, no license, fleeing and eluding, including 6 felony arrests, arrests for 4 stolen dirt bikes, and more.

"Our riders are very good and a few of these kids are finding that out already," says Muhic.

3 more trained officers on 3 more police dirt bikes are on the way to the streets of Cleveland.

Soon there will be 6 in all.

"The need is a response to a national phenomenon," says Muhic.

There are Cleveland intelligence officers now in each district.  They network with other police in an interstate web of sorts to specifically cross reference and catch illegal dirt bike riders. 

"As a matter of fact, for the city of Washington D.C., they recently had a street takeover where we were able to identify one of our Clevelanders who was out there with a motorcycle," says Muhic.

Cleveland cops are not messing around. In some cases they are even using social media to make arrests.

The message is clear. "Stop. It's over. It's done. We're here and we are here to stay," says Muhic.

Now it’s a second-degree misdemeanor for the first offense and a first-degree misdemeanor on each offense after that.

The legislation adopted by city council also prohibits gassing up dirt bikes and ATVs unless they are at the gas station trailered or carried by another vehicle.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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