Union: DC police going after illegal dirt bike, ATV riders, but lack of prosecution is a problem

D.C. police said Monday that they have arrested 36 people for illegal dirt bike riding in the last six months and have destroyed 113 ATVs so far this year.

Still, illegal dirt bikes continue to plague city streets and it was evident Sunday evening when a crew of dozens of riders interrupted D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham's news conference on recent homicides.

Video of the incident had people talking on social media, with some asking why police and the mayor can't do more to stop this. D.C. police have a no-chase policy, so officers are limited with how they can respond.

D.C. Police Union treasurer Greggory Pemberton said he wants people to know police are actively going after illegal riders.

"What officers are doing is they are outsmarting these people, outwitting them," Pemberton said. "They are catching them at gas pumps, they are catching them in alleys when they are storing or retrieving their vehicles or exchanging vehicles with other people. That is where we are capturing them. That is where we are making those arrests."

He said according to research by the union, the problem is with the prosecution and sentencing of those caught.

"Really, none of the people that were being charged were actually going to jail for any of these offenses," Pemberton said.

According to records pulled by the union for cases from January 2014 and May 2015, Pemberton said only 28 percent of those arrested were found guilty, most of those convicted faced no fine, and no one convicted was sent to jail. Judges can sentence those convicted of illegal riding to up to 30 days behind bars.

The union also takes issue with the D.C. Council's 2013 decision to reduce the maximum fine for illegal riding from $1,000 to $250.

"It's inexplicable to me," he said. "You have a problem that's rampant, that causes a dangerous situation for citizens and interrupts neighborhoods in a very egregious way and then you have the council come in and make a penalty less."

Earlier this year, police released 245 photos of illegal riding suspects. Police said since then, 51 have been identified and 29 have been arrested. Police have 16 outstanding warrants and six pending warrants.