44 arrested, dozens of cars impounded in Atlanta street racing crackdown
Police also seized four firearms, including a semi-automatic rifle, during the arrests
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — It’s not a new crime. Street racing has been popular for as long as there have been fast cars.
But it’s illegal and dangerous, and Atlanta police have put the brakes on street racing. A weekend crackdown led to 44 arrests and 114 citations, according to police.
And the department’s chief says officers aren’t done targeting those drivers racing on interstates and downtown streets.
“We pledged to deal with these speeders and reckless drivers who have shown a complete disregard for the safety of others with these dangerous antics,” Chief Erika Shields said Monday in an emailed statement. “This weekend, with the help of our law enforcement partners, we made inroads. We will continue to impound, arrest and seek costly fines for those individuals who choose Atlanta for this senseless behavior.”
The investigation was the latest targeting street racers in metro Atlanta, where races have become spectator events and created a buzz on social media. With many streets emptier due to the coronavirus pandemic, the daredevils have more opportunities, according to police.
“This isn’t new,” Carlos Campos, spokesman for Atlanta police, said Monday afternoon. “But what the pandemic did was create a perfect storm where you have young people who are bored; their usual outlets — shopping, hanging out in a park — those were all eliminated by the stay-at-home orders.”
Earlier this month, a viral video posted to social media showed crowds at The Mall West End gathered for a stunt driving event complete with fireworks. In April, the parking lot of North DeKalb Mall was the scene of racing until police arrived. And in March, Clayton County police arrested three drivers after a stunt driving event shut down the I-285 tunnel near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The latest arrests and citations were issued at several Atlanta locations that have been “hot spots” for racers, including interstates and Spring Street in Midtown, police said. Investigators also had 29 cars impounded and located four firearms, including a semi-automatic weapon. Late last week, two men were arrested after they were caught racing in the Ikea parking lot.
Those charged and cited are accused of various traffic offenses, including laying drag, speeding and reckless driving, driving under the influence, drinking in public, and possession of marijuana, according to an Atlanta police spokesman. One felon was found to be in possession of a firearm and charged accordingly.
Those arrested range in age from 17 to 43, records show. Five of the suspects are teenagers.
Other agencies assisted with the crackdown, including the Georgia State Patrol, deputies from the Fulton and Clayton county sheriff’s offices and the Atlanta Department of Corrections.
“We could not have done this without the assistance of these agencies, and our ability to work together toward our common goal to stop these behaviors on local streets and highways,” APD Deputy Chief Terrell Griffin said in an emailed statement. “It truly was a team effort.”