GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO)-- Motorcycle gangs continue to have a strong presence worldwide, and Grand Junction is no exception. They're something police are keeping a close eye on.
Detectives couldn't tell us much about these gangs for security reasons. What we do know is there is a motorcycle gang presence in the Grand Valley, and it's been around for a long time.
"I've been in the business for 30 years, and we had outlaw motorcycle gangs represented in Grand Junction when I started," said Mike Nordine, Investigations Commander with the Grand Junction Police Department.
The motorcycle culture calls them "one percenters," or the one percent of motorcycle riders who consider themselves outlaws.
"There is a gang that actually goes by the Outlaws. We have some of that representation here in town," added Nordine. The Outlaws have a clubhouse just off Patterson Avenue. KKCO 11 News stopped by to talk to someone Tuesday afternoon, but no one was home.
The list goes on. "The Mongols is another known gang, the Sin City Disciples," said Nordine.
Total membership of all Grand Valley motorcycle gangs is less than 50.
"The groups that they are affiliated with the national chapters are very concerning. So as a result of that, we are concerned about memberships of the organizations here locally," said Nordine.
However, just because people are dressed in leather and ride Harleys doesn't mean they're doing anything illegal and are most likely not dangerous or violent, according to Nordine.
"That is one percent. Most people are generally everyday, hard-working people that just love to get together," said Tom Jackson, a motorcycle enthusiast who has been riding motorcycles for decades and works at the Harley Davidson dealership in Grand Junction.
The majority of the motorcycle community finds the word "gang" offensive; they prefer to be called clubs.
"When they can do things to help others out there, they definitely do. They pull together and raise money for needy people or raise money for special events and food banks and so forth," added Jackson.
But unfortunately, a few bad apples can spoil it for everyone else.
"We certainly have some criminal activity involved with local gangs," said Nordine.
Detectives wouldn't comment on specific local crimes, but motorcycle gangs are known nationally for drugs, extortion, and prostitution: a reason for local police to continue to remain vigilant.
"We keep a close eye on that, try to make sure we keep the community safe," said Nordine.
Police say the size and strength of local gangs has changed over the years. But again, many motorcycle clubs are peaceful, law-abiding, and do charity work.
Officials say if you do have a reason to believe a motorcycle group is doing something illegal, you're asked to contact the police.
The Grand Junction Police Department has officers assigned to keep an eye on these gangs, along with their other duties.