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After dirt bikes take over Cleveland streets, residents want 'no chase' policy changed

Posted: 10:50 PM, Aug 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-15 11:36:58-04

Some Cleveland residents, block clubs, and city leaders are calling for a re-examination of the Cleveland police "no chase" policy, after ATV and dirt bike renegades tore through city streets on Aug. 12.

Police report rogue riders made their way through Cleveland, Lakewood, Rocky River and Bay Village, but Cleveland officers took no action until five riders were arrested by Lakewood police and issued a host of charges.

Stockyards Connections Block Club leader David Reuse told News 5, renegade riders have been terrorizing drivers all summer, and Cleveland Police have to be allowed to give chase and make arrests.

"Well I think that the policy needs to be re-visited, and I think our police need to be un-handcuffed, and be permitted to do their jobs, they need to change the policy," Reuse said.

"It's very easy for these renegade four-wheelers to cause a fatal accident."

"Once they got into Lakewood, these suburban officers are allowed to do their job. They're not to just sit there and watch what goes on."

Cleveland Safety Committee Chairman Matt Zone agrees the Cleveland Police "no chase" policy needs to be changed.

Zone said the issue is sure to be a hot topic at the summer city council meeting on August 15. According to a city council spokesperson, the issue is not on the agenda as of Wednesday, but it may come up at the end of the meeting.

Zone is also calling for an examination as to how shifts for the Cleveland Police dirt bike unit can be expanded since the unit is the only group of officers who have the training, equipment, and authority to chase rogue riders.

"Kudos to the City of Lakewood, people who break the law need to deal with the consequences," Zone said.

"We need to have our police officers have the authority to give chase. I have spoken to so many police officers who want to do it."

"We can't send mixed signals to the community that it's open season, that you can ride unlawfully within our municipal borders."

News 5 contacted the Cleveland Mayor's office about the "no chase" policy, and it said there are no plans to change the protocol, despite the August 12 rider rampage.

City hall issued the following statement:

"The activity this weekend by the dirt bike riders is no different than what happens in urban centers across the country,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson.  

“As early as 2016, we were looking for ways to promote legal riding activities including funding and building a dirt bike track which we are still pursuing.”

“In addition, we have had six organized events this summer at Municipal Parking Lot hosted by the Bob Burton Foundation along the Shoreway. There is one more scheduled event for August 18th.”

On the enforcement side the Division of Police has a motorcycle unit with 7 off-road motorcycles to assist with enforcement.

In May 2017 legislation was introduced and in October 2017 passed, requiring bikes be licensed to operate on city streets.

The legislation also bans stunt moves, such as riding while not sitting in the driver's seat, on city streets or other public property.  

And, no off-road vehicle may be fueled at a gas station while free standing.  Off-road vehicles may be fueled at gas stations only when on a trailer or other legally licensed vehicle."

Still, Reuse believes a change in the "no chase" policy is desperately needed.

"We have to do something before some innocent driver is killed," Reuse said.

"There are ways police can give chase and make arrests safely in many cases, and we need to explore that."