Monday, April 27, 2009 - By Ben Berkowitz - 5 comments
With nearly 4500 views and 170 comments an issue about roving packs of ATV'rs became a big story in New Haven.
A few things that were particularly interesting about this issue that demonstrate the usefulness of the tool:
1) There are multiple viewpoints on the issue including those of ATV riders who believe there should be more riding trails.
2) Two newspapers picked up the story from the issue which was clearly of interest to the community. http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2009/04/27/news/new_haven/a1_--_neatv.txt and http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2009/04/weekend_enforce.php.
It was interesting to see the way the issue was covered from two different perspectives. The New Haven Independent actually got a ride along with the police department who made arrests this weekend which leads me to the next point:
3) Police Involvement. From the Register article:
"The police department has launched what has been informally dubbed a “quad squad” in an effort to crack down on illegal dirt bikes and ATVs.
Community leaders have complained for years about the vehicles and the police chief says they have roared up and down city streets with impunity — until now.
Over the weekend, the department seized 10 dirt bikes and two ATVs, along with a stolen motorcycle, after dedicating 12 officers each day to finding, stopping and confiscating the all-terrain vehicles which speed, dodge and weave through traffic on crowded city streets, tear up parks and cause Eula Pendarvis’ mirror to rattle on her wall when they race in packs by her house in the Hill neighborhood."
and from the New Haven Independent Article:
"A recent complaint on the website SeeClickFix describing a group of ATVs “barreling down East Street at top speed” provoked over 175 comments. Posters shared their many sightings of reckless dirt bikers. ATV riders reportedly roam in packs, whipping through red lights and weaving through traffic at high speeds. Several of the comments on SeeClickFix called for immediate police action to take care of the noisy and dangerous ATV menace.
“Get these guys off the road (and out of the park) before they kill someone!” wrote one anonymous commenter.
“This needs addressing immediately,” wrote East Rockette. “Please stop them before they run into us!”
“Why don’t they just sit an officer out there, in plainclothes, with backup a minute away?” wrote Streever.
As it happened, that’s almost exactly what they did. On Saturday and Sunday, two unmarked cars with plainclothes detectives were patrolling the city, on the lookout for illegal ATV use. In addition, there were six squad cars on the streets ready to respond quickly to calls from the detectives.
Their strategy, according to supervising officer Bombalicki, was to find ATV riders in action and “box ‘em in,” close in on the bikers with several squad cars and cut off their escape routes.
The weekend operations were ordered by Chief James Lewis, who Bombalicki said “wasn’t happy” about ATVs on New Haven streets."
Its exciting to see that citizens using the SeeClickFix tool have the power to tell the government and police as well as the press what is important to them when it comes to the public space.
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