By Katelyn Sattler
Safety issues were discussed at the Aug. 10 Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting.
Sgt. Frederick Brophy, with the Columbus Division of Police, reported that there have been persistent problems with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) being driven on streets on the westside, as well as county-wide. According to Brophy, police are cracking down on those who ride these vehicles in the street because it is a safety hazard for the driver of the ATV and others on the roadway.
Columbus City Council recently passed legislation to increase penalties on those caught driving ATVs on the streets. Columbus police have started an enhanced enforcement of the new laws.
The city has joined with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and some suburban agencies recently to crack down on the problem with a different tactic using more manpower and more money. A new task force is working on stricter enforcement of the new laws.
“The idea is to get officers out here in peak times when large groups are moving throughout the city,” said Brophy.
Several arrests were earlier this month, along with ATVs seized and drivers cited.
According to Brophy, police have a “no pursuit” policy when it comes to ATVs in the streets, so police need to put more effort into catching the people doing it. Intelligence has been gathered and is being used to identify the peak times for large groups of ATV riders in the city that can be enforced.
The city, division of police, and the mayor’s office have heard concerns about the ATVs and will allocate resources to the problem.
Brophy hopes to see the benefits from the agency-wide focus on ATVs being driven illegally in the streets.
According to reports, automobile deaths and residential burglaries have increased near the West Broad Street corridor. Some potential juvenile suspects in the area and city-wide have been identified and Columbus police hope that with enforcement and better investigation, the community will see a drop in illegal activity.
When asked how the Greater Hilltop Area Commission could get more officers in the area, Brophy said city council needs to pass an amendment to the police charter and approve a budget for it.
“Moving manpower is required. It’s a big undertaking,” said Brophy. “Trust me, nobody wants that more than I do. I know because I work out here that the westside of Columbus needs more police officers.”