Fast and furious: Dayton sees increase in street racing complaints

Dayton police are trying to crack down on illegal street racing in the city. STAFF
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Dayton police are trying to crack down on illegal street racing in the city. STAFF

The Dayton Police Department says it is cracking down on illegal street racing amid growing complaints from community members about the dangerous and disruptive activity.

Police made five arrests and issued 30 citations during a two-day enforcement detail earlier this month, and more operations focused on this offense are planned through the rest of the year.

Some local and out-of-town groups are organizing street racing events in the city, which put people’s lives and safety at risk, including innocent pedestrians and passing motorists, said Dayton Police Lt. Stephen Clark, watch commander of the West Patrol Operations Division.

Street racing also is noisy and tears up roadways, causing significant damage that require tax dollars to repair, he said.

“It’s quite a large problem,” Clark said. “It’s a citywide issue.”

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The Dayton Police Department parked two mobile speed enforcement trailers on Harshman Road, just south of Ohio 4 near Eastwood Lake. FILE 2018

The Dayton Police Department parked two mobile speed enforcement trailers on Harshman Road, just south of Ohio 4 near Eastwood Lake. FILE 2018
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The Dayton Police Department parked two mobile speed enforcement trailers on Harshman Road, just south of Ohio 4 near Eastwood Lake. FILE 2018

Between Nov. 14 and 15, Dayton police launched a targeted traffic enforcement operation in various parts of the city. During that period, officers pulled over and cited many drivers for drag racing, reckless operation and other offenses, Clark said, and they also made a handful of arrests primarily for fleeing and eluding authorities.

A few drivers lost control of their vehicles and crashed after trying to flee the scene.

For the most part, illegal street races in the city have been organized events that people coordinate online on third-party websites, Clark said.

Videos have been posted on social media and video-sharing websites of side-by-side vehicles zooming down what are purported to be city of Dayton streets.

Some of the events have attracted large crowds, sometimes as many as a couple hundred participants and spectators, Clark said, which is bad news at a time when coronavirus cases are skyrocketing.

On Nov. 17, police from multiple agencies responded to the 1800 block of Palisades Drive in Harrison Twp., where a crowd of more than 100 people blocked the intersection as they watched cars do doughnuts and burnouts, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

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Driver loses control of vehicle, arrested for reckless driving

Driver loses control of vehicle, arrested for reckless driving
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Driver loses control of vehicle, arrested for reckless driving

Street racing puts the drivers at risk, but it also is dangerous to other motorists, pedestrians and children, Clark said.

Clark said he does not know why, but street racing is becoming more popular. He said it’s never been this much of a problem in the past.

Other cities, including New York City and Los Angeles, have seen drag racing complaints and citations soar this year, possibly because of the pandemic.

People might be bored and sick of being cooped up. Streets may be emptier than usual because people are spending a lot more time at home.

Over the summer, illegal fireworks were a much bigger problem in Dayton than normal, and many people suspected the pandemic was to blame.

Not all street racing and reckless driving happens at organized events. Some people decide to drive at “fast and furious” speeds on their own.

On Nov. 13, Dayton police cited a 27-year-old motorist for drag racing along Gettysburg Avenue, according to Dayton Municipal Court records.

The motorist allegedly raced a truck in the adjacent lane after being egged on and being urged to “punch it,” according to the officer’s statement on the citation.

Illegal drag racing is a first-degree misdemeanor offense.

Dayton City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild said he was glad to see the police department recently beef up traffic enforcement along a major corridor in the northwestern part of the city.

“Hopefully the word gets out that we are upping our enforcement of traffic and that will get part of the message out to driver safer,” he said.

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