PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As Providence officials work to crack down on illegal vehicles in the city, Mayor Brett Smiley met with a spokesperson from the biking community on Monday.
The Providence Police Community Response Team was launched last week to help address the quality-of-life issues affecting residents.
“It was a cordial, friendly conversation where he shared some of the concerns of the riders and their desire for a place to be able to do this activity safely in a contained, contained geographic area and it was a productive conversation,” Smiley said.
For the last two years, there have been renewed efforts to crack down on ATVs and dirt bikes, but they’ve continued to be a problem. City leaders say the response team will use more resources to help detect illegal activity before it happens and hold violators accountable.
Providence police said they will treat these situations as investigations and target individuals who are associated with ATV storage, operation and sales.
They’ll do this through the use of technology like body-worn cameras and other video footage, as well as social media, undercover police work, and information obtained through the Community Relations Bureau.
Riders for years have argued for a safe place to ride in the city, but the two sides have yet to come to an agreement.
According to Smiley, the spokesperson for the riders compiled research that shows other cities have designated riding areas.
“He suggested that in other places, when these kind of organized events have taken place, that the riders themselves contribute to pay for the insurance,” Smiley said.
Last week the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Rhode Island and Black Lives Matter RI PAC released a joint statement raising concerns about the city’s plan, specifically regarding the use of video surveillance.
“Our organizations share the city’s goal of creating a safe environment for all residents, but seeking ways to criminalize ATV and dirt bike use – and utilizing expansive surveillance techniques to do so – are deeply troubling methods to pursue this laudable goal,” they wrote.
No word at this time if any resolution was decided at the meeting.
City residents and businesses can anonymously report non-emergency information about ATVs or dirt bikes being illegally driven or stored by calling the tip line (401) 680-TATV (8288) or emailing ATVtips@providenceri.gov.