NEW HAVEN -- The daredevil dirt bike season began with a vroom as renegade riders surrounded a driver’s car, then surrounded a cop car, before zooming away through a park.
The incident unfolded over about 90 minutes Sunday, according to the New Haven Independent.
Here’s what happened, according to Assistant Police Chief Racheal Cain:
A group of dirt bike and ATV riders were traveling recklessly in the area of Kimberly Avenue and Ella Grasso Boulevard around 4:30 p.m. A husband and wife were in a car; the woman became visibly upset about the danger.
One of the riders noticed this. He wasn’t pleased. He stopped, kicked the car door. He picked up a rock, threatened to throw it at the couple. He and his compatriots circled the car.
New Haven Police Public Information Officer David Hartman called the illegal ATV riding "nothing short of terrorism."
Hartman, who said the illegal activity ramps up as the weather gets warmer, said teens are terrorizing innocent drivers and police alike.
"This is just lawlessness," said Hartman. "We've had undercover officers get buzzed by these criminals, flip them the finger. It's a game to them."
Hartman said New Haven Police and virtually all police departments, follow a strict policy of not pursuing dirt bikers for safety reasons.
Daniel Imperati of New Haven said he knows the majority of the city's dirt bike riders.
"Honestly, they just need a place to ride," said Imperati. "That's the God's honest truth. If they had a place to go and ride where they didn't have to be on the streets, they would."
"They should be able to have a place to go, a park to go" said Trisha Mackay of New Haven. "I mean, motorcycles can do it. They have bike lanes."
"They're always on Whaley [Avenue]," said Katriela Knight of New Haven, who believes the riders pose a safety area, especially to neighborhood children. "They're pretty much everywhere."
Hartman said a lack of space for riders is a poor excuse for their illegal behavior.
"If I owned a circus and I wanted to walk my elephant down Whaley Avenue, I don't get to do that either," said Hartman. "This is a city. You don't get to use the city streets and thoroughfares around here as a place for you to go off-road biking."