With warmer weather approaching we have seen an increase in groups riding dirt bikes and ATVs being operated on public roadways. Those operating these motorized bikes and ATVs often operate recklessly and cause a great deal of alarm. This is an issue occurring not just in Fairfield and neighboring communities, but all across the State.
We make every effort possible to deter and prevent this behavior. Unfortunately, when police attempt to stop these individuals, they often disregard officers’ requests to stop and they flee at high rates of speed. This causes further reckless behavior and additional risk to the general public.
Language in recently enacted state legislation articulates a host of prohibitions for police engaging vehicles in pursuit. It is postulated that more often than not, pursuits present a danger to the lives of the public and police officers, in addition to those operating the motorized vehicles. Therefore, pursuits are prohibited in most cases: “offenses that constitute infractions, property crimes (to include stolen motor vehicles), non-violent misdemeanors and non-violent felonies shall not be justification to engage in a pursuit of another vehicle…”
In addition, many of these motorists are also juveniles; a population we are restricted from pursuing. According to State policy, “a pursuit shall be terminated if the police officer knows or is reasonably certain, that the fleeing motor vehicle is being operated by a juvenile and the suspected offense is not a violent felony.”
Unfortunately this has created a climate where violators are encouraged to flee rather than comply with lawful attempts by police to stop them. Once they flee, we are statutorily prohibited from pursuing them unless we know they have committed or are likely to commit a violent crime.
The Fairfield Police Department is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the public. We take a proactive approach to ensure we respond to all calls for service, including reckless driving complaints, and are visibly present when individuals drive through our town in such a manner. We do attempt to identify these offenders in a variety of ways including checking for registration information through the use of license plate recognition technology. We also utilize video surveillance technology to identify operators. In addition, we work with other jurisdictions to track the movement of these vehicles in hopes of finding them at their final destination. However, what is most important is the immediate; that we monitor the movement of these groups to ensure the safety of innocent motorist and pedestrians.
As we share the concerns of many of our residents regarding this issue, we recommend residents write their elected representatives and legislators to seek a resolution to these issues. We thank our residents for their understanding and patience as we work together to ensure public safety while operating within the confines of existing Federal and State laws.
We will continue all efforts possible to keep Fairfield safe, but please continue to report any reckless driving to police:
-In an Emergency Dial 911
-For non-emergencies call 203-254-4800