Weekend Pass: Cops keep eyes on outlaw clubs (Sturgis, SD)

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Mar 042010
 


Outlaw motorcycle [clubs] might claim to be good ol’ boys who like to ride bikes, but law enforcement officers say that by definition, outlaw [club] members are involved in crime. Kevin Thom, director of the Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Investigation, said that he considers outlaw [clubs] to be organized crime.

To keep track of [club] activity, DCI completes a report at the end of the Sturgis motorcycle rally tallying all contacts officers have with [club] members and gathering intelligence information. Officers note who is enrolled in which [club] and what roles individuals have within the [clubs].

The information is then put into a report a few inches thick and shared with 35 states and five foreign countries that have an interest in the information, Thom said.

The information gathered this year will be used by DCI to prepare officers for the next year’s rally, Thom said. DCI puts together a Law Enforcement Safety Bulletin, a handbook of outlaw [clubs]’ identifiers and terminology, a timeline of violent motorcycle [club] involvement in South Dakota from 1981 to the present, and acts of violence nationally in the current year.

The crimes traditionally committed by outlaw [clubs] during the rally are drug possession and distribution, motorcycle theft and assault, according to Pat West, director of the Rapid City DCI office. In general, [club] members don’t commit random attacks against others. “If you mind your own business, everything will be fine,” West said. “If you pick a fight, you’ll get one.”

Anyone picking a fight with one [club] member might get more of a fight than he can handle, West said, because other [club] members will join in. “Every one of them is loyal to those colors and that group,” West said.

Law officers have been concerned in the past that [club] violence would erupt at the rally because of disputes between [clubs] in other parts of the country. In April 2002, a shootout between the Hells Angels and the Mongols in Laughlin, Nev., left three dead and 12 hospitalized. In February the same year, a fight between Hells Angels and Pagans in Plainview, N.Y., killed one and injured 10, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities here were alert for signs of problems at the 2002 rally, but none occurred, Thom said.

“Rivalries between [clubs] ebb and flow,” West said.

Motorcycle thefts are big business for outlaw [clubs], and professional thieves work motorcycle rallies, Thom said. Law enforcement officers work to prevent thefts and recover stolen bikes, and representatives of the National Insurance Crime Bureau come here to try to identify stolen motorcycles and parts.

Locally, the Bandidos is the only outlaw [club] with official chapters, two in the Black Hills and one East River. Hells Angels owns 120 acres north of Sturgis, and the Sons of Silence have a 10-acre campground seven miles north of Sturgis, Thom said.

A Rapid City Bandido, Christopher Horlock, 44, turned himself in June 21 in Houston after being indicted with 25 other people in Seattle, the AP reported.

Horlock, a national regional secretary for the Bandidos, was wanted on charges of conspiracy to tamper with a witness.

Horlock’s indictment and arrest was part of an offensive launched by federal agents and police against the Bandidos after a two-year investigation, according to the AP. Authorities served arrest and search warrants in Washington, Montana and South Dakota.

Source: know[clubs].com

Feb 112010
 


This is from Maks Goldenshteyn who is covering this issue for The Olympian and News Tribune:

Rep. Steve Kirby’s latest attempt to curb the alleged profiling of motorcyclists by law enforcement officers gained a little more traction Tuesday after his bill was passed out of committee on a 7-to-1 vote.

HB 2511 would force local law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy designed to condemn and prevent the profiling of motorcyclists, who have testified that police target them out of the mistaken assumption they belong to biker gangs. The language used in HB 2511 is borrowed from a bill passed in 2002 that dealt with racial profiling, and it would institute training to address the problem.

“If we have to make it a legislative matter to make it stop, so be it,” said Kirby, a Tacoma Democrat. “We shouldn’t have had to pass a racial profiling bill, but we did because it was the right thing to do. And this is the right thing to do.”

Kirby said he hoped his previous two bills on motorcyclist profiling would solve the problem by at least bringing attention to it. But motorcyclist advocates say police still target them for stops and enforcement.

Official s from the Washington State Patrol and the Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs deny the claims.

David Devereaux of the Washington Confederation of Clubs said before the House Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness that almost every member of every club, and even motorcyclists who aren’t in clubs, has been profiled.

Motorcyclis ts present at Tuesday’s hearing point to a specific incident involving the Washington State Patrol in January of 2009 as one of many incidents that prove they’re being profiled. At Black Thursday, an annual legislative lobbying day for motorcyclists, riders went inside the Capitol to try to find sponsorship for a bill that would stop motorcycle profiling. Outside, the Washington State Patrol arrived and began taking down their license plate numbers.

Video footage taken of the officers shows some crawling through bushes to get the information. Committee Chairman Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, said he never profiled anyone in his 25 years in law enforcement, but acknowledged that “what you’re talking about has happened.”

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, a Benton County Sheriff’s deputy, said he doesn’t profile motorcyclists either. He voted against moving the bill forward because he wants to see it tweaked.

Donnie Landsman, who’s in charge of legislative efforts for the Washington chapter of ABATE, said he was profiled in the halls of the John L. O’Brien Building before Tuesday morning’s hearing.

“Oh there’s a motorcycle gang. I wonder what they’re here for?” he heard someone say after he and a group of other motorcyclists arrived early to find out what room the hearing was going to be in.

http://www.theolympian.com/politicsblog/story/1124138.html