MEMPHIS, Tenn.– On many roadways in Memphis and Shelby County, illegal street racing or drag racing is fast, it’s furious and it’s reckless. It’s a problem that’s now front and center before the Memphis City Council.
Many of you have probably seen some of the videos of the reckless driving or witnessed it firsthand.
The Memphis City Council told Memphis Police on Tuesday that more needs to be done to slow it down.
Memphis Police told councilmembers that drag racing and reckless driving, like in many U.S. cities, surged during the pandemic.
“It’s not just Memphis and I’ll tell anybody you’ll see a trend in most big cities when COVID came around it was a behavioral change,” said Deputy Chief Paul Wright.
It’s a behavioral change showing no signs of slowing down. In 2019, the grand total of drag racing and reckless driving arrest charges stood at 613. In 2020, that number jumped to 727 and last year it peaked at 890 arrest charges.
“We are out here. we have various operations setup. We put task forces together to deal with kind of behavior. We have our investigative units out there now,” Wright said.
The Memphis police precincts seeing the biggest increase are Mt. Moriah, Crump, Tillman, and North Main.
Councilmembers wanted to know if the Tennessee Highway Patrol could do more to help.
“So, we had not been getting what we believe was our fair share. Because of actions of this administration and support of the council, we will be getting a significantly increased presence of THP,” said Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowan.
Councilmembers say that’s welcome news because they fear people could lose their lives if illegal racers are not arrested and prosecuted.
“Hopefully, eventually these numbers will go down because people will correct their behavior and will stop doing this very dangerous act that no doubt will cost lives,” said Councilman Ford Canale.
As Memphis Police try to crack down on fast, furious, and reckless behavior on the roadways.
“If you’re caught out there speeding and trying to avoid the police, you will be arrested when we catch you and your car will be towed,” Wright said.
Memphis Police say if you see any drag racing activity to call them at 545-COPS.