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Police Launch Major Crackdown Against Rogue Biker Gangs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city has launched an aggressive push to rid the city of the rogue motorcycle gangs that threaten drivers and pedestrians.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the city will hold a public crush-in to destroy confiscated bikes as part of a zero-tolerance policy push.

The bikers are considered a message and a danger, terrorizing motorists with their aggressive and threatening behavior.

"Individuals operating these bikes – these knuckleheads," said police Commissioner Bill Bratton, "I describe this as a big problem in the sense of the danger and risk that they present – that these clowns present – in terms of their pack mentality, where they have no concern for public safety at all – go up on sidewalks. They're in and out of traffic."

"The folks who do this think they have a right to bother everyone else; to disrupt their peace and endanger their safety," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "They don't."

At a monthly briefing on crime statistics Monday, officials said they have begun a new crackdown.

Since Jan. 1, they have confiscated 312 motorcycles, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles – twice as many as last year. And police said they have just begun.

"In the last two weeks, we've made 65 seizures of dirt bikes, motorcycles and ATVs," said NYPD Chief of Patrol Carlos Gomez. "We also made a dozen arrests for driving recklessly."

The move follows the infamous September 2013 incident in which Alexian Lien and his wife and daughter were terrorized on the Henry Hudson Parkway in Washington Heights by a biker gang. Lien was pulled from his SUV and beaten in front of his family.

The crackdown will include a very public ceremony where the confiscated bikes will be crushed and sold for scrap.

"These bikes that are so near and dear to them – they're not going to be too happy when we take those damn things and crush them so that they can't be used," Bratton said.

No date has been set for the mass-crushing, which the mayor calls a "crush-in."

Bratton said about 80 percent of confiscated bikes are not returned. He said he wants to make it 100 percent.

He is also asking for the public's help in identifying places where the bikes are stored when not on the road, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

Police also said Monday that downward crime trends that started under the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani have continued across the city.

"Similar to murders, we have never reported in the COMPSTAT era fewer shooting incidents than we have this first quarter," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Dermot Shea.

Mayor de Blasio credited NYPD officers with getting 800 guns off the streets in the last three months.

"And how many more people will be safe because these guns have been taken off the streets, and because the people who had them have been arrested?" de Blasio said.

Officials also said more technology is on the way, with an additional 300 ShotSpotters sensors coming online – with alerts coming directly to officers' smartphones.

But Shea said the only category of violent crime which is on the rise is felony assault, which includes stabbings and slashings, 1010 WINS' Al Jones reported. And Kramer reported that the announcement of the biker crackdown distracted attention from the fact that such crimes are up 21 percent since Jan. 1.

So far this year, there have been 899 slashings and stabbings compared with 746 for the same period last year.

Last Friday alone, there were two. One man was slashed at the Chambers Street A Train station in Lower Manhattan, and another was attacked while walking into the No. 1, 2 and 3 train subway station at 34th Street-Penn Station – reportedly after he refused to give a panhandler money.

Both happened at locations and times outside the parameters of the NYPD's new anti-stabbing initiative.

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