CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor is now calling out the Cleveland police after the FOX 8 I-Team revealed hundreds of illegal dirt bike riders taking over the streets, including I-90.
Prosecutor Michael O’Malley also showed the I-Team video he recorded as the dirt bikes and ATVs swarmed Ohio City.
The street takeovers happened Sunday and the I-Team revealed some riders fired gunshots, too.
“I was walking down Lorain Avenue. The ATVs, the dirt bikes were doing wheelies. They were going on both sides of cars, traveling the wrong lanes, but, what astonished me was, there was just no attempt to stop it by anyone,” O’Malley told the I-Team.
The I-Team found the riders blocked traffic on Interstate 90 at East 55th Street. They cruised in endless packs from the eastern suburbs to Cleveland’s west side.
O’ Malley is asking what so many of you have wondered: why do Cleveland police allow this?
“I can’t tell you why a decision has been made in Cleveland that is hands-off but, clearly, it’s the wrong decision because it’s getting worse,” he said. “When they are bold enough to take over interstate highways in our county, I don’t know what’s left.”
The I-Team revealed desperate calls made to 911, but Cleveland police have ordered patrol officers not to chase dirt bikes.
Cleveland police do have a special unit to target dirt bikes, but the I-Team asked how many of those bikes and ATVs have been seized by Cleveland police since 2019.
A record sent to us through the city law department shows just seven.
Records also show Cleveland police have taken well over 1,000 calls a year from citizens about the street takeovers.
The I-Team asked the Cleveland Division of Police for a response to the prosecutor’s call to crack down. Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia released a statement saying:
“Despite regular traffic enforcement details focusing on illegal riding, dirt bike and ATV activity on city streets remain a challenge for law enforcement. Although tactical pursuits can be effective at times, vehicle pursuits overall pose an extreme danger to not only those in violation but also innocent motorists, pedestrians and police officers. One of the most effective tools in combating illegal and nuisance riding is for individuals to obey the law and to stop riding illegally. Another way to combat this activity is information from citizens. If you have information relative to planned rides, the parking or storage of large quantities of dirt bikes or know of someone who you believe is involved in this illegal activity, contact law enforcement. Call 911 in emergency or 216-621-1234 for non-emergency. You can also report illegal activity anonymously by calling CRIMESTOPPERS at 216-252-7463.”
Meanwhile, Cleveland Heights police arrested one rider with nearly a pound of marijuana and thousands of dollars on Sunday.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol also arrested a rider with a gun and a wad of cash.
The prosecutor says he’d like to see the Highway Patrol and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department get more involved in stopping the street takeovers as well.
He also says many riders, if stopped, could end up facing felony charges for guns, drugs and stolen dirt bikes and ATVs.
“We have to stop this madness on the streets,” O’Malley said.
While the hundreds of riders on Sunday created a bigger group than ever seen before in Cleveland, O’Malley contends the illegal dirt bikes are a problem sometimes night after night with much smaller groups of riders.