City of Kent looking for options to stop street racing
KENT, Wash. - There's a persistent problem that's been speeding through the streets of Kent for more than 30 years. Now police are looking for new ways to crack down on street racers who take their fast cars down city streets. It's growing problem that's against the law.
"You're taking an event or incident like racing that's designed for a control environment like a race track and your putting it in an uncontrolled environment - city streets and an urban environment and that's when dangers occur," said Stg. Jarod Kasner who is an officer with Kent Police.
Videos from YouTube reveal hundreds of cars drag racing through the streets of Kent. Police say it happens on most weekends throughout the year.
"You get a report over the radio that we have an accumulation of racers in the area and you show up and there can be an upward of 500 cars in specific block radius," said Kasner.
Racer's have turned Kent into a drag racing destination. The lure is the straight long streets in the city's industrial north end. But police say they are also seeing racing on our highways and in other neighboring communities.
Although authorities say racing isn't the entire problem -- those who gather to watch the races are also causing issues.
"They congregate amongst themselves, park in the parking lots of the businesses, basically loiter in that area," said Kasner.
An employee at the 7-Eleven in Kent says dozens of cars and people will gather in their parking lot late on Friday and Saturday nights, and that police have had to be called in because customers are afraid to come inside when the parking lot is full of racers.
Just across 180th South, the situation is similar at the Jack in the Box. Employees say customers can't get through the drive thru. In addition, late night workers have to call for police assistance to safely drive their cars out of the parking lot after their shift because of loitering racers and spectators.
"They are outside in the parking lot drinking. Last time there was a fight here and they were pushing each other," said Medina Delic who works at Jack in the Box. "It's dangerous."
Kent Police say they will continue to enforce the law and rally for more resources to slow down and stop street racers.
"When they are on the road and competing for speed and racing they are a danger to not only themselves but to everyone around them," said Kasner.
If you are caught racing or loitering to watch a race you can be charged with a misdemeanor crime.
Police have tried putting in speed bumps, educating racers and even increasing patrols but nothing seem solve the problem.
Kent recently received a grant that allowed police to do undercover patrols which resulted in 131 traffic infractions.