Barry tweets concerns about D.C. dirt bike enforcement

August 30, 2013

D.C. Council member Marion S. Barry is apparently “disturbed” at reports of arrests and allegations of excessive force by D.C. police as officers crack down on illegal dirt bikes and ATVs in the city, according to messages from his Twitter account.

In a series of tweets, Barry (D-Ward 8) asked Chief Cathy L. Lanier to meet with him and parents in his ward to discuss potential paths to create a legal way for young people to ride dirt bikes and ATVs in the District.

Such off-road vehicles are illegal to operate in the city and authorities have charged about 100 riders in the past two years and seized dozens of the vehicles.

“Chief Lanier, Instead of treating kids as criminals, endangering their lives, lets work together 4 safety courses/helmets,” one tweet read.

Barry could not be reached immediately for comment Thursday evening to confirm that he wrote the tweets.

The number of urban riders has grown in recent years in the District and Prince George’s County and has brought complaints from residents about noise, reckless driving and fears about safety in parks and other neighborhood locales. T o enforce the law, police officials said they do not chase riders, but have taken pictures and identified them and seek arrest warrants as one tool to curb the behavior.

In an emailed statement, police officials declined to discuss the tweets, but did address allegations of excessive force.

“We have no policy on this alleged tactic,” said Gwendolyn Crump, police spokesperson. “We frequently receive complaints from the community about the dangers posed by these off road vehicles.”

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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