Tacoma neighbors voice frustrations over 80 person street racing event

Sep 19, 2023, 6:44 AM

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

(Photo from KIRO 7)

(Photo from KIRO 7)

A quiet Saturday evening turned chaotic in a north Tacoma neighborhood. Residents are still trying to make sense of the sudden “flash mob” street race that took over the intersection of North 33rd and North Gove.

One homeowner in the area captured the ordeal on camera and called the whole thing “crazy”, “because it happened in a matter of less than 10 minutes…50 to 60 people,” said John Greene.

We reached out to the Tacoma Police Department, the responding agency that night and they told us that over 80 people were seen participating or watching this event. We also learned that two people were arrested for “attending a street race” with both of their cars being impounded and as of Monday afternoon a search warrant pending.

One neighbor with a front-row view of the burnouts and donuts told us that after speaking to the responding officers, “It was clear that they’ve experienced this before. They have a strategy for dealing with it which made me feel great,” said Sarah Sutton.

Unfortunately, as seen in several videos from that night, the arrival of the police had almost no effect on the situation. Green told KIRO 7, “…as a matter of fact, it almost seemed to entice them– there was no fear they didn’t run…”

Sadly, this seems to be a growing trend across King and Pierce counties. In April just outside of the KIRO 7 studio, hundreds gathered as street racers appeared to be doing donuts leaving plumes of smoke in the air.

Then, in July a street racing event in Seattle’s Capitol Hill left one woman dead with people seen jumping on top of police cars. In Kent, multiple reports of street racing over the years have made the police department determined to combat this ongoing threat turning to additional resources.

And now Tacoma, the city that has dealt with street racing downtown and in parking lots, is seeing this unwanted activity spilling into quiet residential neighborhoods putting those who live there at risk.

Green asked a Tacoma Police Officer the night of the street race, “What are you going to do?” to which the officer replied, “There’s nothing we can do. We need to give them an out and just get them to disperse,” Green added, “that was the really frustrating part of it.”

While local police agencies have told people affected by this problem there’s “nothing they can do” because “their hands are tied” this isn’t a lack of action on any department’s behalf. Washington State law limits what officers can and cannot do. The Tacoma Police Department did tell us that their agency as well as agencies in surrounding areas do recognize the problem with street racing in our cities and have put together an unofficial street racing task force to gather information and work collectively to respond to calls.

The department also encourages members within the community to look into their Community Liaison Program and for any comments, questions, or concerns reach out to your area’s community liaison officer. For more information or questions on that you can contact the Tacoma Police Department at TPD-PIO@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5968.

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Tacoma neighbors voice frustrations over 80 person street racing event