8th Police District receives new off-road motorcycle

  • Ticket to ride: The Franklin Mills Advisory Council and the 8th Police District Advisory Council funded the 8th Police District’s new Suzuki Enduro. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Ticket to ride: The Franklin Mills Advisory Council and the 8th Police District Advisory Council funded the 8th Police District’s new Suzuki Enduro. Members of both organizations are shown with the new bike on April 1. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

The 8th Po­lice Dis­trict has a new weapon to com­bat sum­mer­time rev­el­ers in the area’s parks, school­yards and cramped al­ley­ways.

A new Su­zuki En­duro is the new­est mem­ber of the dis­trict’s grow­ing fleet of off-road mo­tor­cycles. Fun­ded jointly by the Frank­lin Mills Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil and the 8th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil, the $5,600 dirt bike is ideal for use on un­du­lat­ing trails while re­main­ing func­tion­al on paved roads, drive­ways and park­ing lots. The dis­trict has four older cycles, too.

“The thing that blows up my phone all day is un­der­age drink­ing,” said Capt. Len Ditch­kof­sky, the 8th dis­trict com­mand­er. “The kids drink in the woods and we can’t get a po­lice car in there. Without [the mo­tor­cycles], we can’t do a whole lot about it.”

The dirt bikes have been a staple of the 8th dis­trict’s patrol strategy for years. Of­ficer Ru­fus Rag­land has used the cycles for about a dec­ade. They are power­ful with 650cc en­gines, yet agile enough to go any­where a horse, bi­cycle or ATV may go, while cov­er­ing the 17-square-mile ter­rit­ory.

“In the 8th dis­trict, you can run in­to any kind of ter­rain,” Rag­land said. “There are streets, paved trails and times when we go onto the horse trails in the dirt and mud. We’re not do­ing any­thing crazy like go­ing up the side of a moun­tain, but we can get close to any­thing crazy that’s go­ing on.”

In ad­di­tion to youth drink­ing parties in the area’s parks, po­lice also en­counter home­less camps and il­leg­al ATV riders. Many activ­it­ies oc­cur deep in­to the woods.

“It’s like a little city in there,” Rag­land said. “We’ve broken up some really elab­or­ate drink­ing parties where we had to cross rail­road bridges (and) fol­low tracks and trails just to get to them.”

“It’s not just the un­der­age drink­ing,” Ditch­kof­sky said. “They get in­to the woods and get drunk and bad things hap­pen. They can get robbed or stabbed.”

As a res­ult, the vehicles get a lot of wear and tear, re­quir­ing fre­quent re­pairs and re­place­ment. In the past, older cycles have been passed to oth­er units for train­ing or been salvaged for parts. In past years, the PDAC has bought new cycles and re­lated equip­ment for the dis­trict. This time, the Frank­lin Mills Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil footed most of the bill.

Ditch­kof­sky cred­its City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill with alert­ing the Frank­lin Mills group about the dis­trict’s need. O’Neill’s aide, Mar­garet Re­cu­pido, at­tends monthly PDAC meet­ings. Bill Finkel chairs the PDAC.

“We’re pleased to sup­port the po­lice and fire de­part­ments and sup­port folks in the 19154 ZIP code,” said Jack Ir­win, pres­id­ent of the Frank­lin Mills Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil. “Last year, we donated $42,000 to youth sports groups, seni­or cit­izens, schools, churches, po­lice and fire and oth­er char­it­able or­gan­iz­a­tions.”

The mall’s own­er, Si­mon Prop­erty Group, provides the an­nu­al fund­ing in ac­cord­ance with an agree­ment between the ori­gin­al mall de­velopers and the com­munity.

“To me, there couldn’t be a bet­ter part­ner­ship between the po­lice dis­trict and the com­munity,” O’Neill said. “This is the ex­act type of thing we en­vi­sioned with the mall ad­vis­ory coun­cil 25 years ago. It’s a pub­lic safety im­prove­ment for the com­munity.” ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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