Since 2020, communities nationwide have seen an increase in large-scale sideshows that have endangered passers-by, the police and the participants, as well as plaguing neighborhoods with noise and associated criminal activities.
In this episode of the “Policing Matters” podcast, host Jim Dudley talks to Sergeant John Ampol of the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) about the policies and training SDPD has put in place to manage sideshows, emphasizing collaboration with allied and prosecution agencies, extensive training, and enforcement strategies focusing on impounding vehicles and addressing ancillary crimes like ghost guns, drug trade and fraud.
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- “They’re not just a bunch of kids doing donuts. There are so many ancillary crimes that they were involved in on top of what they were doing with these sideshows.”
- “We looked for any lawful reason to impound their vehicles. Now, California has a plethora of impound codes that we can hold these vehicles for 30 days.”
- “If social media didn’t exist, takeovers wouldn’t exist. That is their bread and butter, it’s all about being on the map, it’s bragging rights and having that public acknowledgment.”
Here are some of the approaches SDPD is taking to stop sideshows:
- Comprehensive enforcement techniques: The approach to managing sideshows goes beyond mere presence at the event. It includes impounding vehicles involved, addressing ancillary crimes like ghost guns, drug trafficking, and various forms of fraud, and leveraging social media for intelligence gathering.
- Community and legal support: The program has garnered significant support from the local community and the legal system. The district attorney’s office and the city attorney have been actively involved, recognizing the importance of addressing the broader issues associated with sideshows, such as public safety and property damage.
- Focus on training and collaboration: Emphasis is placed on training law enforcement officers and collaborating with allied agencies and prosecution offices. This approach ensures a more unified and effective response to sideshows, leading to more successful outcomes in tackling these events.
- Charging for vandalism and other serious offenses: One of the key tactics in curbing sideshows is charging participants with vandalism due to the damage caused to public property during these events. This approach not only addresses the immediate issue but also imposes significant legal consequences, acting as a deterrent to future participation in sideshows.
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