YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Last year, Youngstown residents complained about ATVs and dirt bikes driving recklessly through the city.
On Thursday, Police Chief Carl Davis explained how the department handled the issue.
“We put together a team of officers that concentrated and focused on that, and we pretty much nipped it in the bud after several arrests,” Davis said.
Davis says this is an issue across the country. They confiscated 35 different ATVs and motorcycles from these incidents, with only some having to be returned.
“A lot were stolen. Quite frankly, with serial numbers scratched off, I would say a very small percentage were given back,” Davis said.
Groups could be as large as 20 to 30 bikes, running red lights and blocking traffic.
“What started this detail last spring into summer was they were getting so bold. These groups they were surrounding a few officers in their marked patrol car and taunting them,” said Lt. Brian Butler.
A few times, officers trying to make traffic stops turned into pursuits, so the department used unmarked vehicles and focused on their social media accounts.
“They put everything on social media, and it really helped us. We made a lot of identifications, went to their houses,” Butler said.
Police would wait at service stations for the drivers to get gas.
“That eliminated the pursuit, and we just pulled them off the bike, wrote them their ticket. Of course, if they had guns or anything, it turned into felony charges,” Butler said.
The department worked with the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and used their drone to watch the group.
“The drone was instrumental. They would lead us right to the house, and then we would go get the people,” Butler said.
The department is now working on getting its own drones through grants.