Multiple agencies are working together in an effort to curtail illegal street racing in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
The Washington State Patrol said the emphasis is in response to the street/freeway takeover activities across the region and the inherent recklessness of those in attendance, according to a May 14 press release.
In early 2021 multiple King, Pierce, and Snohomish county police agencies came together and coordinated their efforts to respond to, and investigate illegal street racing related incidents in the region. In addition to law enforcement collaboration, local municipal and county prosecutors have voiced their support and dedication to improving public safety in responding to this significant public safety issue.
Since early March, investigators from the Tacoma and Kent police departments, the Washington State Fusion Center, and the State Patrol have all worked together to identify and arrest multiple suspected racers, and forwarded over 220 different charges against 29 people in relation to these incidents, according to the press release.
These charges range from reckless driving, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and malicious mischief all the way up to vehicular assault. Charges have been forwarded on suspected organizers, drivers and spectators who contribute to these events.
This problem is not new, nor is it unique to our region, according to the State Patrol. In fact, this is a trend seen in many large cities across the country. But with it has come repeated instances of this reckless and irresponsible behaviors leading to serious injuries of those involved in the racing activities and the bystanders watching alike.
“It is a unified goal to bring attention, enforcement, and an end to the reckless behavior that has resulted in multiple fatal and serious injury incidents in relation to street racing events,” according to the State Patrol. “These joint efforts and collaboration on the part of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors across the region will continue to be dedicated towards street racing as long as it continues to be a nuisance and danger to the public, as well as an inconvenience to those motorists impacted by this behavior.”
Capt. Ron Mead, commander of field operations for the State Patrol in District 2 (which encompasses all of King County), explained the issue.
“This regional problem exceeds the ability of any single law enforcement agency to address it alone,” Mead said. “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. Through coordinated efforts, better use of resources, and collaboration with local prosecutors’ offices, participants in this dangerous activity will be held accountable for the betterment of public safety.”
Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephen A. Herschkowitz, of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said the coordinated effort should make a difference in reducing street racing.
“The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is committed to helping protect the safety of our communities’ streets by working closely with WSP (Washington State Patrol) and other county agencies for this special emphasis,” Herschkowitz said. “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. Our office is proud to provide legal assistance to our law-enforcement partners as part of this emphasis team.”