LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Department is seeking legislation that would allow stiffer penalties to help it crack down on illegal street racing, Chief Michel Moore told the city’s Police Commission Tuesday.
Los Angeles has grappled with an increase in street takeovers over the past year. Police say 705 street takeovers have been prevented or disrupted by the LAPD’s Street Racing Task Force so far this year, a 44% increase from the same period last year.
Police have issued 674 citations and impounded 457 vehicles during street racing events, which are increases of 63% and 27%, respectively, from last year.
Moore said LAPD officials would be sending recommendations to the mayor’s office. The proposals could include implementing a 30-day impound of vehicles involved in street racing with no waiver, driver’s license suspensions, points added to DMV records and potential forfeiture of vehicles for repeat offenders, according to Commander Al Pasos.
Another possible recommendation is targeting people who lend their vehicles to street racing participants.
“That vehicle is a nuisance,” Moore said. “Just like lending a gun to a child. They’re lending a dangerous weapon that’s having a tremendous impact on the safety and sense of security in our neighborhoods.”
Last month, five City Council members filed a motion seeking reports and analysis for a multi-year plan and funding strategy to combat street takeovers. According to the motion, at least six people have died during or near street takeovers in Los Angeles in the last eight months.
A number of prominent incidents have occurred on the Sixth Street Bridge, which opened July 10 to much fanfare but was soon overshadowed by those who came to perform street takeovers, spinouts and other activities blocking traffic — resulting in several closures.
Even with legal options to race cars in an open area such as the Irwindale Speedway on Thursdays, many street racers seek the thrill of taking over public streets, according to Pasos.
“What we’re finding out is the incentive — even of no cost — it doesn’t offer the attraction to what we’re seeing in the city, with that mass of people and that takeovers and that rush that they’re having happen to them,” Pasos said.
The demographic of street racers is diverse, encompassing “every ethnicity that we have” and is mostly people between the ages of 15 and 45, according to Sgt. Jesse Garcia.
Moore pointed to the advanced technology of modern vehicles that make them especially dangerous during street takeovers and the impact of social media as the two main changes to street racing compared to previous decades.
“This is no longer the Van Nuys corridor and hanging out at Bob’s Big Boy and cruising up and down the street,” the chief said. “The difference is, with the popularity of Tik Tok and social media is to garner attention and to get clicks or likes and monetize this by attracting crowds.”