COPIAGUE, NY - A Lindenhurst man was arrested after he was caught recklessly driving an ATV on Sunrise Highway in Copiague on Saturday evening, according to Suffolk Police.
Officers responded to a 911 call of multiple ATV's and dirt bikes racing in and out of traffic on Sunrise Highway near New Highway at 5:45 p.m.
Officers Michelle Maresca and Steven Ripp initiated a traffic stop on Sunrise Highway of a Honda TRX450R ATV operated by 26-year-old John Harley, police said.
Harley was charged with reckless driving and third degree unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle.
He was issued a total of 63 traffic summonses, police said. The Honda ATV was impounded.
State Police officers doled out 14,542 summonses to New York City motorists in the first four months of this year — an astonishing 759 percent increase from all of last year, when they scribbled just 1,692, records show.
The troopers — blue-and-yellow fixtures on upstate highways but once a rarity on city streets — gave out only four tickets in here in 2015 and none in 2014.
In December, Gov. Cuomo deployed 150 state cops to patrol city highways, bridges and tunnel crossings. Their presence achieved two Cuomo goals: to haul in revenue to state coffers, and rankle rival Mayor de Blasio, according to observers.
“This is a good old-fashioned turf war,” said a city Democratic elected official. “This is the governor trying to show the mayor that all of New York is the governor’s turf. And it’s a way to needle the mayor by pointing out the mayor is not doing enough to improve traffic safety or keep New York safe.”
When told of the surge in trooper tickets, mayoral spokesman Austin Finan said that while the city welcomes state help, “sending troopers to patrol the safest big city in the country seems like a curious use of precious law-enforcement resources.”
A Cuomo rep called the troopers the “most well-trained department in the state.”
Troopers have been pulling over vehicles on the FDR Drive, West Side Highway, Belt Parkway, and the Brooklyn Queens, Gowanus and Prospect expressways. Most tickets have been for speeding and cellphone use, according to traffic lawyers.
“We’re seeing a lot of these tickets from troopers and it’s growing,” said attorney Peter Tilem.“There’s concern city drivers will be paying through the nose in fines because of the additional enforcement.”
The trooper ticket blitz has likely generated more than $3 million in revenue. A typical speeding ticket costs $203 — with $88 in surcharges going to the state and the $115 balance to the city. A cellphone summons costs $288.
Troopers also made 93 arrests so far this year in Gotham — 48 percent more than the 63 cuffed in all of 2016, State Police records show. They made no NYC arrests in 2015.
Last month troopers collared an attempted-murder suspect after chasing him from the RFK Triborough Bridge to Randall’s Island.
With a barracks on Wards Island, state troopers have had a small footprint in the city since the 1950s. In the years following the 9/11 attacks, about 75 additional troopers were assigned to various joint crime-fighting task forces in the city, according to a State Police source.
But Cuomo has slowly and steadily increased the ranks of Troop NYC, sending 50 additional officers in September 2014 — one week after then-President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes against ISIS — to local airports, as well as Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.
In December, the governor sent 150 more officers to patrol state-owned MTA bridges and tunnels with the crossings transitioning to cashless tolls. It also came as Cuomo clashed with de Blasio over whether to rescue or kill a deer that wandered through a Harlem park, and the governor was privately peeved over state troopers not receiving enough credit for discovering a third explosive device after the Chelsea bombing in September.
Troop NYC welcomed another 57 newly minted troopers last week — the largest contingent of academy graduates to join any of the state’s 11 police barracks this year.
“Troopers were deployed to provide extra security amid worldwide terror threats that targeted infrastructure and to catch scofflaws when the state moved to congestion alleviating cashless tolling,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.
“The simple answer to why there are more tickets is we weren’t on bridges and tunnels and now we are,” said State Police spokesman Beau Duffy. “The NYPD is aware of our presence and we’ve worked well with them.”
But dropping troopers into areas already patrolled by the NYPD creates a “dangerous mix” and an “accident waiting to happen,” according to one public-safety expert.
“Putting primarily rural and traffic-oriented. . . troopers into an urban environment should be done with the greatest care and collaboration. It shouldn’t be done to seek political point scoring,” said John Jay College criminology professor Eugene O’Donnell. “This is a Chris Christie-esque thing, using law enforcement to do political machinations.”
Azzopardi said troopers are present in urban areas across the state. “Your so-called expert clearly doesn’t know the first thing about state police training,” he added.