Street racing and stunts have been a problem for a long time in the city of Dallas.
It was an especially busy time for Dallas Police responding to racing calls last weekend, which prompted city leaders and the police department to put out a plea to racers to help bring an end to the madness.
During the weekend of Oct. 3 through Oct. 4, DPD data showed the Southwest Patrol Street Racing Task Force responded to 48 racing calls, made 26 arrests and issued 101 tickets related to racing. In one incident in Oak Cliff near the intersection of Hampton Road and Davis Street, officers reported observing about 100 vehicles gathered in that area.
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That part of the city falls within Councilman Chad West's District 1. The councilman has been vocal about the street racing issue and recently shared with constituents that on some busy weekends, there are as many as 1,500 racers across the streets of Dallas.
For context, there's about 500 to 600 DPD officers on patrol across the city.
West said it seems the pandemic has possibly made matters worse.
"A couple of weeks ago, there was a guy pulled over, he's from Mesquite,’” West recalled from a recent conversation with DPD. “And he was asked by DPD, 'Why are you doing this? Why are you here?' he said, ‘I'm from Mesquite, I'm bored. It's COVID. I want to get out and do something."'
West said the number one call his office gets is speed racing and added that one thing that might be contributing to the issue is DPD’s “no chase” policy.
The only exception for officers to chase vehicles is for those with active felony warrants, those who commit a felony while racing, or limited misdemeanors.
West said other cities such as Grand Prairie allow officers to chase all racers, which in turn, pushes racers from surrounding cities into Dallas.
“Dallas has chosen to not institute a chase policy because of officer safety and safety of the general public, who could be harmed by high-speed chases,” West said in a recent update to constituents.
Efforts are still being made in the city of Dallas to combat the problem. Just a few months ago, City Council passed an ordinance making it illegal to even spectate or organize these races.
Dallas police issued a statement in regard to the continued street racing problem:
"The Dallas Police Department has had a racing/speeding task force in operations over the last several years. We have issued thousands of citations, towed tons of cars, and made multiple arrests. We have made every attempt to inform the public through various social media campaigns the dangers and consequences of street racing. Unfortunately, this reckless act continues to plague our city. We will continue our efforts to address these speeders and ask the public not to be a participant or spectators, it is against the law. Instead, be an educator and educate those persons on the dangers of street racing."
Councilman West said he echoes that message.
"I don't disagree. The speed racers are dangerous, it's putting the community in danger and themselves in danger. And it's irresponsible. We've got to do what we need to do,” he said.
West said a resident in his district recently created a task force to work on traffic calming on Hampton Road, one of the worst areas in his district.
He added that a Public Safety Advisory Committee was created in his district in August. The committee will review DPD's no-chase policy and other policies related to speed racing for any potential solutions.
"All options are on the table right now in the interest of reclaiming our community from these speed racers," he said.
For now, the council has asked DPD for more patrols on the weekends and temporary traffic calming measures.