WSP teams with local agencies to tackle street racing

WSP teams with local agencies to tackle street racing
Anna Spoerre

Street racers gather the evening of Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, in the parking lot of the Goodwill on Northeast Marine Drive and 122nd Avenue in Portland, Ore. Across America, police are confronting illegal drag racing whose popularity has surged since the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns began. Drivers have blocked off roads to race and to etch donut patterns on pavement with the tires of their souped-up cars. From Portland, Oregon; to Albuquerque, New Mexico; from Nashville, Tennessee; to New York City, officials are reporting a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, uptick in street racing.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Street racing is glorified by Fast and the Furious movies and classic cartoons, but in the real world, it poses a significant danger to the community. For that reason, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is teaming with regional police agencies to stop a recent influx of street racing throughout the state.

According to a press release issued by WSP Trooper Chase Van Cleave, numerous police agencies from the Puget Sound region are teaming up to put a stop to increased street racing events. With the backing of local municipalities and county prosecutors, King, Pierce, and Snohomish county police agencies have combined to submit over 220 different charges against 29 different people suspected of engaging in street racing.

The charges range from misdemeanors to felonies. The press release listed Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Disorderly Conduct, and Malicious Mischief all the way up to Vehicular Assault. Local authorities have also submitted charges for suspected spectators and event organizers.

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This response isn’t unique to the WSP either. A recent national trend suggests that street racing is on the rise in the United States. According to Andrew Selsky of the Associated Press, “illegal drag racing has exploded in popularity since the coronavirus pandemic began, with dangerous upticks reported from Georgia and New York to New Mexico and Oregon.”

Street racers block off roads, harm the flow of traffic and pose a danger to the pedestrians and other drivers in the area.

“This regional problem exceeds the ability of any single law enforcement agency to address it alone. By working together we hope to bring these unsafe and illegal behaviors that pose significant risks to those involved, bystanders, and uninvolved motorists to an end,” said Captain Ron Mead, commander of field operations for the WSP in District 2.

Stephen A. Herschkowitz of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says that the office will work closely with the WSP to get rid of the public danger imposed by street racing.

“While sometimes glamorized, reckless racing and drifting outside appropriate venues is extraordinarily dangerous. Recently, several people in our county have been severely injured, and one has died, as a result of these illegal street-racing activities,” Herschkowitz said. “Our office is proud to provide legal assistance to our law enforcement partners as part of this emphasis team.”

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