Following an incident involving an all-terrain vehicle which injured two Buffalo Police officers and this past weekend's arrest of two riders traveling recklessly among a pack in the Town of Amherst, law enforcers say they're watching out for an increasing problem of unauthorized vehicles operated on municipal roads.
Last month, two Buffalo Police officers were injured when struck by an ATV while they were on bike patrol for the Juneteenth Festival. They were struck while attempting to stop its operator. A 40-year-old man was charged in the incident and his vehicle was impounded.
Last weekend in Amherst, police responded to complaints of several vehicles - motorcycles, ATVs, dirt bikes and at least one go-kart - traveling recklessly along Main Street. Two people were arrested when the motorcycle on which they were riding struck a marked police vehicle as they tried to flee the scene.
Among those who have witnessed the operation of unauthorized vehicles on city streets is Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who resides within the City of Buffalo.
"First off, they're not registered for that," said Poloncarz about ATVs. "Secondly, people are unfamiliar and not expecting these vehicles, which are very small, often on main thoroughfares. They can cause serious accidents."
Just as risky as using them on city or suburban streets is attempting to stop them. Town of Hamburg Police Chief Greg Wickett explains that officers typically will not get involved in a chase, out of concern for the safety of other motorists.
Their strategy for catching scofflaws is to find out who is operating them and follow up.
"A lot of them don't have license numbers but if you have idea where the person lives, where they come from, we can deal with them after the fact," Wickett said. "If we can identify the driver and find the vehicle, we can impound it, write them a traffic ticket just as you would for a motorist. But we don't get involved in chasing them down. It's just too dangerous."
The Buffalo Police officers struck by the ATV on June 16 were treated for their injuries and released.