Authorities impounded 10 vehicles and issued 42 summonses in Smithtown parks last weekend in a show of force against dirt bike and off-road vehicle riders.
About 20 officers from Smithtown Public Safety Department, New York State and Suffolk County law enforcement agencies gathered in parks and recreation areas across the town Saturday morning, using radios and all-terrain vehicles to corral the riders. Public Safety Deputy Chief Kevin Mcpadden said neighbors cheered as the riders, mostly adults, were stopped and processed.
“They have been wreaking havoc on our parks,” Mcpadden said. “Folks in the surrounding neighborhoods were fed up.” He added: “This is not going to stop with this initial action. We anticipate more enforcement actions in the future.”
Officers issued many of the summons on the grounds of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center, but Mcpadden said the riders had used other locations as well, sometimes cutting park fences to gain entry. Once inside, he said, they harassed park visitors and annoyed neighbors with engine noise.
They left damaged lawns and trails and graffiti, he said, evading routine patrols in the parks and even police, using back roads to escape.
“We had to use a different method of attack,” Mcpadden said.
On Saturday afternoon, his team, with officers from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Park Police, Suffolk County Park Police and county sheriffs, coordinated, chased and blocked the riders’ exits.
Officers issued tickets for numerous violations of vehicle and traffic law, he said, impounding the vehicles of drivers without proper insurance and registration. The processing was carried out without incident, he said.
Most of the riders were Smithtown residents, Mcpadden said. Anyone who wants to off-road legally in the town must find a consenting private property owner, he said, and even then may encounter some regulations. Riders can find more legal outlets on Long Island’s East End or upstate, he said.
A 17-year-old Kings Park boy driving an unregistered dirt bike without a headlight was killed in 2012 in that hamlet when he collided with a car.
Sean Lehmann, Kings Park Civic Association president, said his group had received a growing number of complaints about illegal riding over the past several years at the former psychiatric facility and areas off Sunken Meadow Parkway and Meadow Road, where the Kings Park Unique Area offers one of Long Island’s only handicap-accessible trails.
“I think it’s a start,” he said of Saturday’s enforcement action.