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Neighbors frustrated by ATVs continuing to drive illegally on DC streets, sidewalks

MPD policy prevents police from pursuing these drivers, and some District councilmembers recently introduced a bill to further restrict pursuits.

WASHINGTON — If you live in D.C., you've probably seen drivers riding ATVs on streets and sidewalks. Well, that's illegal, and neighbors are frustrated that it's still happening.

One neighbor took a video of some drivers riding off-road vehicles on the street and sidewalk near the corner of H and 3rd Streets Northeast on Friday.

The video shows one driver narrowly missing hitting a woman walking on the sidewalk.

The neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said she's seen these drivers for years, but says it's ramped up during the pandemic.

While it is illegal to ride dirt bikes and ATVs on D.C. streets, the Metropolitan Police Department's chase policy prohibits officers from pursuing these drivers.

RELATED: Police offer reward for info on DC dirt bike, ATV riders

This past Wednesday, D.C. Police held an ATV Awareness event to connect with the community and share information on what's legal and what isn't.

“Education I believe is key to part of this issue," Assistant Police Chief for MPD's Homeland Security Bureau Jeffery Carroll said. "That people become aware of the dangers of operating vehicles on these streets, and that there are legal places where they can operate this.”

On the flip side, activists have long called for police not to chase these drivers after multiple deaths involving alleged police pursuits.

RELATED: Six weeks after police-involved crash, victim's family demanding answers

In 2018, Jeffrey Price died, after police said the 22-year-old was traveling at a high speed on the wrong side of the road on Division Avenue and crashed into a police cruiser. Family members claim that a police officer was chasing Price and used his car as a blockade, causing the collision that killed him.

In October 2020, police were pursuing 20-year-old Karon Hylton-Brown on a moped, when he crashed with a car and died, sparking days of protests.

“As of this day, we have heard absolutely nothing from MPD about what’s going on with my son, Karon Hylton-Brown," Karon's dad, Chuck Brown said at Thursday's joint public hearing with the Judiciary Committee and Committee of the Whole.

RELATED: WATCH: DC police release bodycam footage of chase, fatal moped accident of Karon Hylton

At that hearing, Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George cited Hylton's and Price's deaths as catalysts for a new bill recommended by the Police Reform Commission.

Essentially, it bans most police chases and tactics like ramming and roadblocking.

“An officer’s decision of whether to speed after someone should always prioritize safety and safeguarding human life," Councilmember Lewis George said.

Price's uncle, Jay Brown, said he believes it's important for people who oppose dirt bikes to have a conversation with people who do ride.

"They created bike lanes throughout the city but can't designate a safe space for this popular American hobby," Brown said. "[It's] perhaps because they only see groups of Black riders in the area."

Neighbors challenge city leaders to devise a plan that will balance the parallel priorities of keeping the community safe from dangerous pursuits and drivers riding ATVs illegally.

DC Police has a program to report illegal ATVs, called Bonus 2 Phone Us.

If someone sees one of these drivers, they can call the Command Information Center at (202) 727-9099. MPD's website said if the information they give results in ID-ING a driver and confiscating the vehicle, they can get $250.

RELATED: Police: Dirt bike group causes issues on DC roadways; One driver fired gunshots at a car

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