Smiley unveils new ‘community response team’ to combat illegal ATV riding

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence Mayor Brett Smiley unveiled Wednesday a new “community response team” to address illegal ATV riding.

Smiley said undercover work and video technology will combat storage, operation, and sales of these vehicles.

“The entire community is victim to crimes like these,” said the mayor.

Providence Police Col. Oscar Perez said a sergeant and four officers will be dedicated to the team.

ATV and dirt bike riding has become a serious and dangerous problem in Providence, especially in recent years with riders taking over streets and in some cases, where a woman was pulled from her car and beaten by an ATV gang in 2021.

Many Providence residents felt relieved Wednesday that the city is proactively addressing the issue.

“For any pedestrians trying to cross the road, it’s suicidal,” said Kate, a 30-year resident of Providence. “The noise is also problematic. It’s not as big of a problem as the danger, but the noise disturbs a nice, beautiful, sunny day.”

Jeremy Costa, an advocate for the dirt bike and ATV community in the city, believes this initiative will divide the community.

He explained, “Just think, they are distancing the community and police relations. They are exacerbating it to the point where nobody is going to want to communicate with police officers. They are just going to run.”

Costa finished, “A solution would be, ‘OK, here is a sanctuary. This is where you can ride safely and securely sunup to sundown.'”

Providence police urge any residents disturbed by the illegal vehicles to reach out their department.

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