Recap of Mtg Regarding Illegal Dirt Bikes

Overall, Turnout was Very Poor

  • Lt Jacobson (Intel & Major Crimes) Lt. Sharp (Patrol) from NHPD.

  • Adam Marchand was the sole Alder.

  • Channel 8 from media.

  • 8 members of the public.

  • Nobody from the business community.

  • Nobody from Mayor's Harp's office. 

Public Comments

Of the 8 members of the public who attended, four believe the illegal dirt bikes are NOT a problem. Some were concerned the issue would be used to 'compromise people of color', and youths. Others took exception with using the words 'terrorize' and 'criminalize' to describe  the dirt bike behavior, and believe the riders just want a safe place to ride. This group advocated for a dedicated public space for the riders, but did not have firm suggestions as to where or how.  Another suggestion was to close off a major roadway on a given weekend(s) and allow the riders to 'perform'. This idea raised questions regarding city liability and how to execute it.

The four members of the public in attendance who believe the dirt bikes ARE a problem, expressed the familiar concerns regarding quality of life, and public safety. Nobody in this group advocated for punitive criminal penalties or targeting youths. Everyone in this group agreed the riders are not from any one racial, ethnic, or age group. 

Lt Jacobson and the Facts

  • The dirt bikes are a major problem. The police get more complaints regarding dirt bikes, than for any other issue - including drugs.  

  • The police are concerned first and foremost with safety, everyone's safety - safety of the public, the riders, and the police. This is why the police don't chase.

  • ALL races are represented by the riders. The riders aren't only youths. It's people from teens to people in their 30's and 40's. Almost entirely males. . 

  • 70% of the riders come from out of town, 30% from New Haven

  • Most of the large rides are from people coming in from out of town

  • Riders aren't just looking for a safe place to ride. They are looking for a thrill and an audience. 

  • When police find a youth with a bike the first approach is to work with the parents. Legal action is only taken if parents don't respond.

    What Works/Doesn't Work   

  • Monitoring social media is no longer helpful. Riders are using apps that are more private.

  • Police rely on tips submitted to the Elm City Intel Center. It's Anonymous 203.946.6296. . Text "NHPD tip" to 274637 (CRIMES)

  • Don't use SeeClickFix. Police don't monitor it and most riders have taken to wearing masks. If you have clear video of riders faces, send to Elm City Intel Center.

  • Calling the 946-6316 helps police track and monitor (and disperse) the larger rides but for the most part won't result in bikes being confiscated. 

  • Trying to catch bikes while at gas stations is not safe given the gas, tight quarters, and presence of the general public.

  • Asking gas stations to deny service to riders might help, but it would need to be voluntary on the part of the gas stations.

  • Monitoring entrance and exit ramps for riders coming in from out of town might help, but the police don't have the resources.

  • Assigning dedicated resources on weekends can be done when the police have specific tips, but its expensive and takes time to prepare and can't be canceled (union rules rightly require reasonable notice) at the last minute, if for example it rains.

  • Building cases against riders has gotten harder due to changes in the way the court are interpreting the law    

Next Steps     
The NHPD is working on a plan of action. We'll cover it when it comes out. But again, there are limits, legally and practically, to what the NHPD alone can do. Absent help from the general public and any interest from our elected officials and business community, the situation will not change. Chief Campbell often quoted Robert Peel, 'the police are the community and the community are the police'. The police are doing what they can. it's now up to the community.

Lastly, thank you to Amy Hudak and WTNH for covering last night's meeting. You can view Amy's report here...