Pittsfield Police Advisory Member Calls For ATV EnforcementBy Andy McKeever
10:29PM / Monday, April 01, 2013
Scott Clements took the issue to the committee to see if there is anything else that can be done.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police Advisory Committee member Scott Clements recently saw an ATV rip down Columbus Avenue just when preschoolers were getting out of school.
He began asking around and he heard a lot of his neighbors also had complaints about the all-terrain vehicles being used in the streets, causing property damage and being an overall nuisance because of their noise. But despite laws on the books limiting how the vehicles can be used, they are seldom enforced.
On Monday, he brought the issue to the Police Advisory Committee in hopes to find new ways to enforce the laws.
"There is a place for these [vehicles] but it is not in the city," Clements said after the meeting. "I'm looking to see if there is any other avenue to help out with the enforcement of this issue."
Clements said he would like to see a zero-tolerance approach.
"If it's up to me, we're going to catch them and we're going to take them," he said.
Police Chief Michael Wynn said the department can't confiscate the vehicles over a civil infraction and that there isn't more police can do without more resources, resources that are not asked for in his proposed budget.
"It's been a problem and it is a problem we're aware of," Wynn said, taking issue with Clements calling it a "growing problem."
The infractions are difficult to enforce because as soon as police respond, the drivers take off into the woods where the cruisers can't follow. Often police will not chase the vehicle at all because it is too dangerous for both the officer and operator just to give out a ticket.
"We're not going to kill someone to write a ticket," Wynn said.
The department does have off-road bikes but would need to take patrolmen off the streets to regularly patrol for illegal usage, Wynn said. In the summer, there are periodic deployment of those vehicles but not on a regular basis.
But the department did order mobile surveillance cameras last year — intended for cracking down on illegal dumping, vandalism, and "hot spots" of criminal activity — which are waiting to be deployed and Wynn said those could also be used to catch illegal ATV usage in parks and on the street.