Renton’s unconventional method to fight street racing
The City of Renton has been fighting illegal street racing without success for decades, but the police might have just solved the problem.
Every Friday and Saturday night, hundreds of cars and spectators show up in Renton’s industrial district to have their own version of the “Fast and the Furious.”
“It’s very organized,” Renton Police Commander Chad Karlewicz said. “A lot of the people know each other. They have set meeting places. They have set race tracks. It’s not 10 or 15 people getting together to do this. It’s hundreds and hundreds of people.”
Renton police have been chasing these racers for years, but only with limited emphasis patrols and stings, nothing long-term.
“When we’re out there, they don’t race,” Karlewicz said. “The day that we’re not there, they are there…”
The city decided to go to the extreme to shut this racing down. The city council voted to allow the police to shut down the three streets the racers were mainly using.
“Let’s just take away their race track so there’s nowhere for them to race,” Karlewicz said. “Let’s be consistent in enforcement to try and convince them to go somewhere else or to stop altogether.”
Street racing road closure
After two weekends of closing the roads from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., Commander Karlewicz said the racers have disappeared.
“In both weekends, we had no racing in Renton,” he said.
So far, so good.
“Time will tell,” Karlewicz said. “It’s a different tactic for sure, but we got to the point where we realized that we had to do something different, maybe something a little outside the box that we hadn’t thought of before. This is it, and we’re going to see where it goes.”
When I asked Commander Karlewicz how long the city was willing to do this, he laughed.
“Any time the weather is conducive to street racing, we’ll be out there with street closures from now until eternity,” he said.