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CHICAGO (CBS) – With a summer heat wave upon us, beaches are already packed and the popular Air & Water Show is just around the corner. So why aren’t police officers going to be patrolling the lakefront on ATVs?
CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot reports that top brass at the Chicago Police Department recently ordered all ATVs removed from the beaches.
At North Avenue beach on Wednesday, there were plenty of police officers on foot and riding around on bicycles, but none on ATVs.
The vehicles apparently aren’t designed to be used on the roads so that officers can ride them to the beach.
Sources said that, when the ATVs were ordered, they weren’t outfitted properly for street travel, but the tires can be changed to make the ATVs beach ready.
“Spend the dollars where they need to be, to make the residents of Chicago feel secure all the time,” lakefront jogger Laura Dellemonache said.
Asked if it would allow a faster response on the sand if police were allowed to use the four-wheel ATVs; lakefront visitor Lester Scott said, “of course.”
He said ATVs would “most definitely” be better than a bicycle for moving along the beaches.
A Chicago Police Department spokesperson issued the following statement regarding the decision to take ATVs off the beaches:
“The Department’s ATVs have been licensed by the State of Illinois for on-road use. However, the manufacturer’s guidelines support off-road use only. Therefore, in the interest of officer safety, the decision has been made to limit use of the ATVs solely for off-road purposes. The ATVs will continue to be used at the beaches for large scale events. A transport vehicle will be used to relocate the ATVs as necessary.”
Last month, CBS 2 cameras captured an officer on an ATV spring into action after a fight broke out on North Avenue Beach.
Others said that police officers can still keep the beaches secure without ATVs.
Beachgoer Derek Fitting said, “I think they’ll do a good job on foot and on bike, so yeah, I’m not too worried about it.”
Meantime, sources questioned why the four-wheelers couldn’t be transported via trailer to the beach and stored at North Avenue or Navy Pier, so they can be used by officers along the lakefront.
Sources said the ATVs are vital at the beach for patrolling, especially during the Air and Water Show.
“I would be concerned that they wouldn’t be able to react in a timely manner. I mean, not that the on-foot and bike patrol can’t react quickly, but ATV (is) just an added layer of security,” Dellemonache said.