Police in Washington, D.C., are cracking down on illegal riders of ATVs and dirt bikes in the city streets in an effort to curb a growing problem responsible for police officer injuries and other problems, such as blocking an ambulance carrying a sick child.
“We will pursue relentlessly these illegal ATVs and dirt bikes and move forward with their destruction,” Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a press conference Tuesday. “We have tourists and children and residents that are being impacted by this and that’s just unacceptable. We are not going to put people’s lives at stake.”
All terrain vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes and minibikes are illegal on D.C. streets and sidewalks, but the law is being regularly ignored by gangs who police say intentionally attract attention so they can be chased. Once police arrive the gang of ATVs will disperse and start driving on sidewalks and through alleyways, making pursuit difficult and dangerous.
Lanier said one of their officers was injured over the weekend after being struck by one of these vehicles
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) said they arrested over 100 people and seized roughly 400 off-road vehicles since they began a targeted operation a year ago. Once a case is closed the MPD destroys the seized property.
Lanier said police are instructed to no longer make an attempt to pursue ATVs causing trouble to protect the safety of officers and pedestrians on the busy D.C. sidewalks. Instead, MPD released photos of various vehicles involved in crimes and persons of interests, asking residents with any information to assist police in apprehending the suspects.
“With the communities help identifying these individuals that are responsible, having images of 245 of these suspects out there, we expect that we are going to get a pretty good turnout from the public for identifying them,” MPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So we are at least taking those individuals off the streets.”
Sternbeck added many of these suspects will be facing multiple criminal charges in multiple jurisdictions across the Washington metropolitan area. The MPD is partnering with police departments in Virginia and Maryland to crack down on illegal ATVs and dirt bikes.
A local resident captured the latest incident involving ATVs blocking an ambulance on video.
— Jeff Johnston (@Blackcomet2001) April 3, 2016
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