Pho­tos shared of some ATV, dirt-bike rid­ers who al­legedly caused chaos

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - THE RE­GION BY LYNH BUI lynh.bui@wash­post.com

Less than a week af­ter nearly 100 dirt bikes and all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles caused chaos at Na­tional Har­bor and in down­town Wash­ing­ton by flood­ing streets and rip­ping across side­walks, po­lice re­leased images of some rid­ers sus­pected of op­er­at­ing the ve­hi­cles il­le­gally.

The pic­tures, cap­tured from sur­veil­lance cam­eras, cell­phones and dash­board-cam­era video, will be the first wave of images po­lice plan to re­lease as they seek the public’s help in iden­ti­fy­ing the peo­ple who roared through the Wash­ing­ton re­gion on June 25.

“We need you to help us iden­tify th­ese in­di­vid­u­als re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing this ma­li­cious be­hav­ior down at the har­bor,” Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice Deputy Chief Ge­orge Ni­chols said.

The rid­ers, who choked the streets of Na­tional Har­bor, rode against the flow of traf­fic, buzzed side­walks and wove in and out of traf­fic, po­lice said. It’s the same group that was re­port­edly seen rolling through down­town Wash­ing­ton ear­lier in the even­ing.

On Fri­day, D.C. po­lice re­leased 54 images re­lated to the dirt-bike and ATV rid­ers from the week­end.

D.C. Po­lice Chief Peter New­sham termed the event “ter­ror­iz­ing” and “il­le­gal and reck­less” at a news con­fer­ence Fri­day and said “the be­hav­ior is not go­ing to go unchecked.”

New­sham said his agency has gath­ered images from sur­veil­lance cam­eras and so­cial me­dia and that “those ef­forts have paid off.”

D.C. po­lice have ar­rested 21 peo­ple and re­cov­ered 10 ATVs and dirt bikes in con­nec­tion with il­le­gal rides this year, the depart­ment said.

County po­lice said they will ramp up en­force­ment around Na­tional Har­bor and in other ar­eas over the hol­i­day week­end to avoid a re­peat per­for­mance of rogue rid­ers.

“We will have our avi­a­tion unit down here,” Deputy Chief Chris Murtha said. “They will be on standby to mon­i­tor and fol­low th­ese ATVs should they de­cide to show up.”

At Na­tional Har­bor on Fri­day, flash­ing signs around the area warned that au­thor­i­ties were en­forc­ing rules ban­ning off-road ve­hi­cles on public streets. The area has about 150 sur­veil­lance cam­eras to cap­ture il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity, au­thor­i­ties said.

All-ter­rain ve­hi­cles are il­le­gal to op­er­ate on public roads in Mary­land and the Dis­trict. But ev­ery sum­mer, po­lice in the Wash­ing­ton re­gion bat­tle swarms of joyrid­ers who dis­rupt traf­fic. En­force­ment against il­le­gal rid­ers is tricky for po­lice, who for safety rea­sons don’t chase those who of­ten ig­nore at­tempted traf­fic stops and can eas­ily thread through traf­fic or onto side­walks with pedes­tri­ans.

“We’re not talk­ing about in­di­vid­u­als en­gaged in recre­ational be­hav­ior,” Ni­chols said. “We’re talk­ing about peo­ple who are en­gag­ing in de­lib­er­ate en­dan­ger­ment.”

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent, county po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the at­tempted rob­bery of a 17-year-old who was try­ing to sell his dirt bike us­ing so­cial me­dia on Wed­nes­day.

The teenager, who legally owned the bike, had in­vited some­one he be­lieved to be a prospec­tive buyer to his grand­par­ents’ home for a sale. But when the per­son who re­sponded to the ad ar­rived Wed­nes­day night, he and two other men robbed the teen at gun­point.

The men tried un­suc­cess­fully to get the dirt bike into the back of a car be­fore one of them sim­ply hopped on the bike and sped away.

Po­lice said they’re ag­gres­sively pur­su­ing ar­rests in the rob­bery and Na­tional Har­bor in­ci­dents to send a mes­sage.

“We in­tend to change the cul­ture of the ATV dirt-bike-rid­ing folks in Prince Ge­orge’s County,” Ni­chols said.

Po­lice are ask­ing any­one with in­for­ma­tion about in­di­vid­u­als in the pho­tos re­leased or the il­le­gal rid­ing over the week­end to call D.C. po­lice at 202-727-9099 or Prince Ge­orge’s po­lice at 866-411TIPS (8477).

COUR­TESY OF PRINCE GE­ORGE'S PO­LICE

Prince Ge­orge’s County Po­lice Depart­ment have re­leased pho­tos of some of the ATV and dirt-bike rid­ers who were seen in the Na­tional Har­bor area on June 25. The large group of rid­ers was recorded il­le­gally op­er­at­ing in the area, in­clud­ing on the side­walks.

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