They’re loud and dangerous and New Haven Police Officers have had enough. The department is cracking down on illegal use of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles.
Fifteen arrests were made during their 10 weeks of “Operation Bike Life.” One more arrest is pending.
What they’re finding is that as the weather warms up so do dirt bike and ATV users. Now, with a team of officers dedicated to tracking the teens, more arrests are expected.
“I’ve been combating the issues for some time now, almost a couple of years,” said Sgt. Vincent Anastasio of the New Haven Police Department.
City leaders and community members say the illegal use of the dirt bikes is a serious hazard plaguing New Haven.
“They’re a big quality of life issue for the city as a whole,” said Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez.
Recent actions taken by the New Haven Police have resulted in them obtaining multiple dirt bikes and ATVs.
“Identify people, photograph people, to do video surveillance and to get warrants secured from the state’s attorney’s office,” said New Haven Police Chief Dean M. Esserman.
“This is only the beginning. We’re going to continue to do this,” said Sgt. Anastasio.
Sgt. Anastasio led the way, working with a team to take surveillance video and even take a look online at YouTube to see what some teens are up to, and so far things are turning out well.
“I think this will curb the actions of the kids,” he said. “I think a lot of them are frustrated already because going to jail is not a fun thing.”
The department has been stepping on the brakes and curbing the illegal use of the off-road vehicles, and so far the program is off to a smooth start.
One West Haven resident, visiting his mother in New Haven, said the noise is just too much.
“Especially when you get a whole flock of them six, seven, eight of them making a lot of noise, speeding, they can hurt themselves or hurt somebody else.”
The legislature has passed a bill that would increase the maximum penalties that cities can impose for illegal use of ATVs and dirt bikes as well as snowmobiles on public property.
The current cap on towing and storage is $250 per vehicle. With new legislation that would increase to $1,000 for a first time offense and would continue for subsequent offenses. That bill is awaiting Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s signature.