NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio — Members of an East Side Cleveland block club applauded the arrest of an illegal ATV rider made by Newburgh Heights police on Wednesday near the area of East 44 Street and Harvard Avenue.
Odetta Fields, with the Community Yahoos Block Club, said she really appreciated how a Newburgh Heights officer conducted a safe and efficient arrest of 21-year-old AJ Hallaman of Cleveland, after Hallaman was caught on police body camera video speeding through neighborhood streets, and endangering the lives of pedestrians and other motorists.
“I think it’s great what Newburgh did, and I wish that Cleveland could do the same thing," Fields said. “It was very awesome to watch, they don’t put up with nonsense.”
Fields also praised Cleveland police for a sting operation it conducted last month on Fleet Avenue, showing News 5 pictures of the effort, which included multiple units from the motorcycle unit. Fields said the operation resulted in five arrests.
But Fields is hoping Cleveland police will do additional sweeps in cracking down on illegal ATV and dirt bike riders, which she said are still a chronic safety issue, and wants Cleveland to relax its chase policy, allowing officers to give chase under a greater number of circumstances.
“We are very frustrated, one of our events was tormented by one of the four-wheelers in the neighborhood," Fields said. "We had officers here and they said their hands were tied, they could nothing about it.”
“If officers can't give chase, we need Tougher penalties all the way around, you know, even if there’s not a life in danger, there still needs to be tougher penalties.”
Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy said he's in support of tougher penalties for illegal riders who are convicted of endangering the lives of pedestrians and other motorists.
Majoy told News 5 his officer did an outstanding job in conducting a safe pursuit and arrest of Hallaman, but said if Hallaman had not toppled his ATV, the chase would have stopped due to safety concerns.
Majoy said even though Hallaman led police on a chase, he was cooperative during the arrest, and faces felony fleeing and alluding, reckless operation and driving under suspension charges. Majoy said Hallaman could face a sentence of up to 18 months in jail and a $2,500 fine, if convicted on the felony charge.
“By posting this video, we wanted to send a message," Majoy said. “We’re going to try and do our best to try and take action against these folks, to make them more complaint with the law.”
Majoy continued, “The rider rolled the thing and he fell off and the officer capitalized on that opportunity, you see him hustle out of his car and go after him. There were a number of pedestrians out on some of the side streets. These riders just don’t realize how mach danger they’re putting themselves in, and the public in. They might think it’s cool, they might think, 'wow we were on the news, look what we did on Facebook.' But it’s all good and well until somebody gets hurt."