The information provided above is only a generalized description of street racing. You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.
A shortcoming at present is the lack of dedicated coding and analysis of street racing data in most police agencies. No software presently exists for the identification and analysis of racing offenses, and agencies must typically hand search their records for higher-level analyses. Others have a dedicated calls-for-service code specifically for racing issues that the officers can use for reporting and communications personnel can query. A problem that can arise with such coding, however, is that it may fail to include other offenses that flow from, or arise out of, illegal racing (auto thefts, other thefts, assaults, trespassing, and so on), or to provide information about groups that gather at retail parking lots. At a minimum, the crime analysis unit or communications section should be contacted to determine how many personnel hours are spent at racing locations, including days of the week and times of day. Furthermore, the agency is advised to create at least a rudimentary database or modify existing records management systems so that street racing-related activity (including crimes, disturbances, traffic and pedestrian stops, vehicle and pedestrian traffic congestion, traffic crashes, arrests, etc.) can be tracked.If such a database does not exist, you may have to manually search through individual complaint records and police reports to determine which are related to street racing.
Police in California have been attempting for years to convince the state to alter its accident investigation form to include coding for street racing. Once the procedure is developed statewide, agencies will be able to obtain reliable data. Until the new form is developed, the California Highway Patrol has disseminated a training memo instructing local officers where to include a racing-related notation. The key for California agencies, and eventually for other agencies nationwide, will be to provide officers with necessary training. Most officers are unfamiliar with street racing codes, rules, and laws; therefore, as the ability is expanded for agencies to track racing incidents, if the responding or investigating officer is not properly trained, a concern is that the proper boxes on the form will not be completed. The San Diego Police Department presently offers training in this regard; thus far, about 2,000 officers have been trained in how to determine when a racing relationship exists with a reported incident.26
In Milpitas, California, each time an officer is either dispatched to any type of call for service or initiates any activity (e.g., traffic or pedestrian stops, arrests, citation, accepting a report of a crime, etc.), at the conclusion of that activity, the officer is required to provide the communications division with a classification code that identifies the specific type of activity. As with all other offenses, a specific classification was simply developed that includes street racing incidents. Race-related traffic enforcement stops; disturbances of any kind involving racers; crimes in which racers are listed as suspects; or other circumstances in which individuals are actively racing at, loitering about, or traversing to and from common racing venues are examples of such classifications.27
Several race-related websites exist that may be used by the police to track racers’ activities as well as provide useful information to racers. For example, Streetracing.com provides racing and club news, articles, events, calendars, chatrooms, message boards, auctions, and other information for many cities and states. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is a 5,000-member trade organization for the aftermarket industry; although SEMA often mounts strong opposition to police efforts and proposed racing legislation, it may offer another avenue to reach racers through the retailers who sell parts.28 Others, such as RaceLegal.com and the National Hot Rod Association’s NHRA.com, focus more on encouraging legal racing, and attempt to educate their readers about related laws and statistics (e.g., numbers of illegal racers who were recently killed, injured, cited, arrested, or who had vehicles seized or licenses revoked).
The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular street racing problem, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.
The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to street racing:
You should be alert to the possibility that your responses to street racing might displace racers and related offenses, either geographically or to other types of crimes. This might not be all bad if the displacement results in less overall harm. Crime and call-for-service data as well as websites should be monitored both locally and in other jurisdictions to determine whether racers are merely taking their activities to other venues.
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