Residents aren’t convinced problem will end

In an effort to stop dirt bike and ATV riders from racing loudly and dangerously down Powerline Road, Wilton Manors Police got a small victory last month – one rider finally ticketed.

According to a police report, Officer Patrick Newton, son of Vice Mayor Scott Newton, responded to a call that a group of riders was traveling south on the street.

When he stopped in the southbound lane and put his lights on the group went around Newton into the northbound lane and continued south. All but one.

The rider, a 34-year-old male from Lauderdale Lakes, was given multiple citations for driving without a license, operating an unregistered vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the street, having bald tires and operating an ATV on a roadway. The vehicle was impounded and the rider was given a court date of Sept. 22.

In a press release, Mayor Gary Resnick commended the police for their actions and pledged that “our officers will continue to conduct directed patrols in their continuing efforts to solve this issue.”

Police recently started monitoring Powerline for the riders after residents complained, mostly via social media, that nothing was being done to stop them.

“Aside from being annoying, they’re very dangerous. They did stop one but that’s not going to keep him from going the next time,” said resident Kate Donohue, who lives near Powerline. She doesn’t expect the problem to go away soon though. “I think our laws are the problem. The police department’s taking a lot of flak but there’s nothing they can do.”

She’s referring to “forcible felony.”

The State of Florida defines “forcible felony” as any “felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.”

In a city memo, Commander Gary Blocker wrote that police are “not allowed to engage in pursuit for traffic offenses to include misdemeanor criminal traffic offenses.”

In a June Gazette article, Westside Association of Wilton Manors President Sal Torre wrote, “Well, if such a large group of reckless riders doesn’t involve the threat of physical violence, I can’t imagine what does! If I were overtaken by this group, I certainly would feel threatened, afraid for my safety and that of my friends/family, my vehicle and my property!”

He also warned that failure to go after the bikers could have dire consequences.

“I guess we will have to wait for someone to be injured, some innocent resident attacked and beaten or run over before action can be taken against these thugs. So we wait for history to repeat itself. We wait for another beautiful Sunday when an innocent family’s life will be changed forever. Who will be the unlucky victims this time?”