APD: Street racing crimes drop despite factors that impede enforcement

Street racing is not a violent crime, but for drivers who get stuck in the middle of one of the impromptu events, it can certainly be an irritating crime.

"While this problem is getting better, it's far from over. We continue to get complaints from the public," Deputy Chief Michael O'Connor said during a news conference Monday afternoon at Atlanta Police headquarters.

O'Connor said APD has been trying to weigh the public nuisance factor against the public risk factor when it comes to officers chasing down street racers once those 911 calls come in on the weekends.

"Pursuits are inherently dangerous, so the problem with pursuing cases like this is that it's really a low-level offense," he said.

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"We certainly don't want to kill someone in a vehicle pursuit as a result of someone just laying drag."

The deputy chief said the problem is subsiding, in part, because of a concentrated allocation of resources, help from Georgia State Patrol troopers, and the number of arrests. Since January, officers have arrested 459 drivers for street racing, laying drag, and reckless driving.

APD ramped up efforts to thwart street racers who've drawn complaints from Buckhead, to midtown to East Atlanta.

"The price tag on each of these particular offenses is potentially a $1,000 fine and six months in prison," O'Connor said.

Turns out, the Coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on curbing street racers by forcing courts to close. But Deputy Chief O'Connor said that won't always be the case.

“While we have been making the arrests and they have been going to jail, they haven't had to pay a fine, no points off their license, so they haven't really had to feel it.  As soon as the courts get up and running again, it will certainly have a bigger impact than it currently is," said O'Connor.

Since APD officers must follow no-chase policy, they rely on Georgia State Troopers to help with street racing enforcement. The deputy chief said APD is evaluating possible changes to its current policy but said there will not be any changes that allow for the pursuit of street racers.

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