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Providence and Cranston announce ATV task force in joint effort to fight illegal operation

Leaders from Providence and Cranston discuss joint efforts on unsafe ATV operation on city streets. (WJAR)
Leaders from Providence and Cranston discuss joint efforts on unsafe ATV operation on city streets. (WJAR)
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The cities of Providence and Cranston announced on Tuesday the creation of a joint task force to combat illegal dirt bikes and ATVs on their city streets.

Leaders from both cities held a press conference on Tuesday after meeting privately the day before. The subject of conversation: how to stop riders on ATVs and dirt bikes from taking over the streets.

"Our goal is to remove these vehicles and operators who break the law safely," said Cranston Police Col. Michael Winquist. "While we cannot share all of the tactics that we will be employing, I will say that they will be creative -- and our plan will involve multiple units, divisions and assets."

The task force will represent a new partnership where the agencies will share intelligence, resources, and personnel to address the issue.

City leaders, police and residents have complained that ATV enthusiasts are disrupting neighborhoods and putting lives and property at risk.

"We will not tolerate or allow this reckless activity to continue," said Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements.

"Please do not come to Providence, do not come to Cranston, do not come onto our streets unless you’re using your vehicles legally and safely," added Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Elorza has pushed for registration process that would allow ATVs and dirt bikes to legally ride on the road.

Cranston's mayor, Ken Hopkins, has backed a seize-and-destruct response but said now he wants to ship them to a police department in the Dominican Republic.

"They have accepted our proposal. We're just working on the details on how to ship them over there. And they will in turn pay for shipping," said Hopkins.

Bike and ATV advocate Jeremy Costa said the new task force still doesn't address the underlying reason riders take to the streets in the first place: they have nowhere else to ride.

"It's just a waste of funds. All we have to do is find them an allocated zone and see what happens," said Costa, who's with BikeLife Lives Matter.

While the partnership is just between Providence and Cranston for now, leaders say they are hoping other communities will join them in the near future.

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