Albany Officials Work To Cut Down On Unlicensed Dirt Bikes, ATVs On City Streets

Jul 11, 2019

Unlicensed all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes have become familiar sights on downtown Albany streets. Not for long, say city officials.

  • In the YouTube video excerpt at right, riders travel along Lark St. to Central Ave. where they encounter, greet and fly by an Albany Police patrol car.

"The proliferation of illegal ATVs and dirt bikes is not only a nuisance to my constituents, but it's a danger to motorists and pedestrians alike."  Tenth ward Common Councilor Owusu Anane says the panel is gearing up to deal with a new wave of lawbreakers.    "Most ATVs and dirt bikes are typically found in the downtown area. They usually have a negative impact on businesses. I've actually heard of an instance where a pedestrian has been hit and a police officer has been hit with an ATV."  Police say the officer was not severely injured.

Albany police Chief Eric Hawkins recently asked the public for help in identifying ATV and dirt bike drivers on WAMC's Vox Pop program.   "We have a drone program that we'll be launching real soon. We have other intelligence measures. You know we're working with the public to get some anonymous referrals to help us with some investigative leads, so we're on it..."

Caller: "Are you actually going after these guys?"

"...we're not, I'm telling my officers not to pursue these individuals..."

Caller: "Not to pursue. So they're basically free to go whereever they want."

"Well, they're not free but pursuing these individuals who are already engaging in reckless behavior on our streets adds to the instability of our streets,a nd so we're following at a distance. We're not we don't have current [unitelligible] to violate laws in our city but we are being responbsile in how we [unitelligible] to it. And I don't want to add to the danger and instability on our streets by having my officers pursuing these individuals through our residential areas."

Officials are turning to the public for help in identifying ATV and dirt bike drivers.  Sixth Ward Councilor Richard Conti says there is language in state law that allows cities to implement a rewards program but it would have to come from the Common Council; he is proposing legislation to implement such a program in Albany.   "Certainly as another tool in the toolbox, not the answer, but you know, something that might be of assistance in trying to get information that could lead to arrests or convictions as afar as illegal use of dirt bikes or ATVs. The resolution basically would be an authorization to the Chief of Police to develop a program with guidelines and standards within what the state law allows."

Conti adds the council previously adopted a rewards program involving drug information and will use it as a template to help roll out the new initiative.

Any information that will lead to arrest of an individual riding around with an ATV or dirt bike. So this piece of legislation is going to reward the public up to a thousand dollars. ~ Councilor Owusu Anane

Councilor Anane says the panel will consider Conti's ATV and dirt bike informant rewards program at Monday’s meeting.  “Any information that will lead to arrest of an individual riding around with an ATV or dirt bike. So this piece of legislation is going to reward the public up to a thousand dollars."  That's for a misdemeanor conviction; the reward bumps up to $25,000 for a felony conviction. Where will the money come from? Again, Conti:    "I don't think it's gonna be a lot of money this early. You never know how these reward programs will work. But it's something that could come out of the general fund, or if there are, you know, potentially forfeiture funds within the custody of the police department, that's another potential source. That's not the biggest concern I would have as far as the source of funds. I don't think you're talking about a lot of money if it works and if it's used."

Conti believes rather than worry about funding, it’s more important to find effective tools that can be used to address the problem before it escalates. 

City Hall is apparently on board in support of the plan. Chief Hawkins has issued a statement that says in part "I commend the Councilman Richard Conti for his dedication and leadership on this issue and welcome any incentives that might be helpful in obtaining information about the dirt bikes and ATV's in Albany."

Here's a look at the measure proposed by 6th Ward Councilor Richard Conti:

RESOLUTION NUMBER 54.72.19R 

RESOULTION OF THE COMMON COUNCIL AUTHORIZING A REWARDS PROGRAM IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 91 OF THE NYS GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW IN RELATION TO THE ILLEGAL USE OF ATVs AND DIRT BIKES ON PUBLIC STREETS 

WHEREAS the illegal use of ATVs and Dirt Bikes on public streets is a growing problem and public safety concern within the City of Albany and nationally; and 

WHEREAS efforts related to prevention and apprehension of individuals engaged this illegal practice are challenging and require multiple approaches; and 

WHEREAS section 91 of the NYS General Municipal Law authorizes the establishment of rewards programs related to the apprehension and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a felony or misdemeanor; and 

WHEREAS the payment of rewards under such programs may not be more than $1,000 for information which leads to the detection, arrest and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a misdemeanor, and not more than twenty-five thousand dollars for information which leads to the detection, arrest and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a felony or felonies; and 

WHEREAS such rewards programs must be authorized by the governing body of a municipality; and 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Albany Common Council does hereby authorize the Chief of Police to establish a rewards program under section 91 of the NYS General Municipal Law related to the illegal use of ATVs and Dirt Bikes on public streets and to establish guidelines and standards there under related to the provision of information and the determination of rewards; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that upon implementation the Chief of Police is authorized to make rewards under such program within amounts authorized therefore; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that prior to implementation the standards and guidelines for such program shall be submitted to the Common Council for review. 

Albany Common Council Memorandum in Support of Legislation 

Ordinance Number: 54.72.19R 

Sponsor(s): Council Member Conti 

Title: RESOULTION OF THE COMMON COUNCIL AUTHORIZING A REWARDS PROGRAM IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 91 OF THE NYS GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW IN RELATION TO THE ILLEGAL USE OF ATVs AND DIRT BIKES ON PUBLIC STREETS 

Purpose: To authorize a rewards program for information related to the apprehension and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a felony or misdemeanor in relation to the illegal use of ATVs or dirt bikes on public streets. 

Summary: Implements section 91 of the General Municipal Law authorizing the establishment of Rewards Programs. 

Justification: the illegal use of ATVs and Dirt Bikes on public streets is a growing problem and public safety concern within the City of Albany and nationally. Efforts related to prevention and apprehension of individuals engaged this illegal practice are challenging and require multiple approaches. Section 91 of the NYS General Municipal Law authorizes the establishment of rewards programs related to the apprehension and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a felony or misdemeanor. The payment of rewards under such programs may not be more than $1,000 for information which leads to the detection, arrest and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a misdemeanor, and not more than twenty-five thousand dollars for information which leads to the detection, arrest and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a felony or felonies. Such rewards programs must be authorized by the governing body of a municipality; and 

Existing Law: Section 91 of the General Municpal Law provides the following: 

§ 91. Payment of rewards for apprehension and conviction of a person or persons guilty of felony or misdemeanor. The governing board of any municipal corporation shall have power to offer, appropriate and pay rewards of not more than one thousand dollars for information which shall lead to detection, arrest and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a misdemeanor and not more than twenty-five thousand dollars for information which shall lead to the detection, arrest and conviction of a person or persons guilty of a felony or felonies; provided, however, that no police officer, peace officer, or any other law enforcement officer or official shall be entitled, directly or indirectly, to collect any such reward. 

Fiscal Impact: Dependent on number of rewards granted. 

Effective Date: Immediate, pursuant to the development of guidelines and standards developed by the Chief of Police.