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Cleveland police say dirt bike unit has made six felony arrests, recovered four stolen bikes

Cleveland police are allowed to chase dirt bikes
Cleveland police beefing up dirt bike unit
Posted at 4:44 PM, Oct 16, 2017

In May, 8-year-old Quartez Brazzel suffered a broken leg and arm after being hit by a dirt bike in Kerruish Park. 

Shortly after that incident, the City of Cleveland formed a dirt bike enforcement unit.

The police department unit uses a motorcycle crossover that resembles a dirt bike, but, unlike dirt bikes, they have headlights, tail lights and other specialized features that make them legal on city streets.

On Saturday, an illegal dirt bike crashed during a police chase by members of the dirt bike unit.

Dre Mobley received minor injuries and was arrested and charged with a felony for eluding and fleeing police.

RELATED: Cleveland Police Department has its own dirt bike unit to crack down on illegal riders

“We are just working off of a large amount of complaints that we are getting about the dirt bike riders and ATVs causing havoc in the neighborhoods. We are just trying to deter these young men,” said Frank Leya with the Cleveland police Dirt Bike Enforcement Unit.

Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association, said he’s worried about officers’ and citizens’ safety during dirt bike chases. He wants the city to put the policy in writing to protect officers from getting in trouble if there’s an accident.

“The officers are being told to do something that is in direct violation of our pursuit policy,” Loomis said.

It’s city policy that patrol cars can’t chase unless they're trying to catch a violent criminal.

“If the chief wants us to do that, then put it on paper and make it so,” Loomis said.

The city's traffic commissioner said the multi-use off-road vehicles can chase, because they’re in a specialized unit, like SWAT, and motorcycle officers get four weeks of training.

“It’s the same reason there are rules restricting basic patrol from making entry into a home during a SWAT situation. SWAT has specialized equipment and the motorcycle unit has specialized equipment, to engage these offenders on the motorcycles,” said traffic commissioner James Muhic.

Since May, the dirt bike unit has made six felony arrests, issued 49 $150 tickets, towed 20 bikes and recovered four stolen bikes.

Supervisors say the police bikes can go places police cars can’t.

“This bike will be able to go on the railroad tracks, it can cross stairs, it can go up large hills whether there’s loose gravel, dirt or grass where cars can not,” Leya said.

The police department has three of the multi-use off-road motorcycles and plans to add three more next year.