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I-Team investigates what happened to Cleveland’s plan on dirt bike crackdown

CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I TEAM has found Cleveland city leaders avoiding new questions about packs of dirt bikes taking over your streets.

A month ago, the I TEAM revealed Cleveland Police were looking at a new policy or some new way of doing something about the bikes. Two weeks ago, the police chief and the safety director both refused to answer questions from the I TEAM. And then Friday, other city leaders either avoided our questions or knew nothing about the new policy.

The packs of bikes on the streets leave drivers furious and Cleveland police officers feeling helpless. Officers say their bosses won’t let them stop or chase the bikes.

We went to a meeting about the city’s plans to build a dirt bike track.

First, the traffic commissioner refused to answer questions. Then, Blaine Griffin, the head of community relations, told us he didn’t know where things stood with any new police policy on the dirt bikes, and his office hasn’t been approached by police.

Dan Williams, a spokesman for the mayor, said he didn’t know when we’ll see a new policy on the dirt bikes. He referred us to the police. But again, last time we questioned the chief, he told us to “Make an appointment.”

Even Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, a supporter of the dirt bike track, couldn’t update us on the new police policy.

Just the presence of the I TEAM camera at the meeting sparked immediate attention. We were stopped at the door, and we had to wait for the director of public works.

Thursday night, a residents group met to express concerns about the construction of the dirt bike track. City leaders believe it will help get riders off the streets. But many residents doubt it. And Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed has called for hiring more police officers meeting other city needs instead of spending the money set aside for the track.

A citizens group is also gathering names on petitions hoping to, ultimately, stop construction of the dirt bike track.

The city has said the new track should be finished and operating in about a year, although at the meeting with potential contractors Friday, the timeline was vague.

Johnnie Burton, a rider who’s behind the new track, may have made the most striking comment to the I TEAM Friday. He made an appeal to the riders clogging the streets. Burton said, "I'd recommend the riders start obeying the traffic laws and things of that nature."

Meantime, a final point about avoiding the questions. The mayor’s spokesperson said the police chief’s office had a statement about this for us. We reached out multiple times. Never heard anything.

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