Street racing and related issues, such as spontaneous car parties, have become an issue that has intensified throughout the Denver metro area and Brighton, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster police …
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Street racing and related issues, such as spontaneous car parties, have become an issue that has intensified throughout the Denver metro area and Brighton, Northglenn, Thornton and Westminster police departments are taking individual and collective steps to address it.
Reducing street racing isn’t as straightforward as issuing speeding tickets, however, representatives of the police departments said. Westminster, for example, is working with businesses to shore up space where car parties occur, while Brighton is ramping up patrols.
Since January, Northglenn PD has received 27 traffic complaints related to street racing, a third of which has been on I-25. Brighton PD has received 18 calls for service, primarily near the King Soopers along 50th Avenue and has issued seven citations. Thornton PD has received 86 calls that reference street racing and has issued 16 traffic citations.
Westminster PD has received “numerous complaints,” said spokesman Ray Esslinger. The department didn’t have precise numbers because it was hard to sort out complaints specifically about street racing and other issues, like noise nuisances, Esslinger said. Street racing in Westminster has occurred along U.S. Highway 36 and Huron Street between 120th Avenue and 144th Avenue. In what strictly qualifies as a street race, none of the departments have recorded any fatalities since January.
All four departments are part of a 34-member task force on street racing led by Colorado State Patrol that also includes the Commerce City Police Department, Adams County Sheriff’s Office and the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s office.
Representatives of various departments are meeting to brainstorm the most effective strategies to curb street racing, though they already have one advisement for street racers: take advantage of state patrol’s “Take it to the Track” program at Bandimere Speedway in Jefferson County.
Metro police departments already know Bandimere won’t cut it, since the pandemic made for less busy roads, an appealing prospect to street racers. Thus, Thornton and Northglenn have beefed up enforcement in areas and at times where street racing is more likely to occur. Westminster, Brighton, Thornton and Northglenn all have assigned a specific person or team to study the issue and develop mitigation strategies.
Some departments are also reducing car parties that pop up in large parking lots. Car enthusiasts will, on a whim, gather in the parking lots of businesses or shopping malls, to show off their cars to one another, said Westminster Police Sgt. Terry Hasse, the department’s street racing point person. Many times, the gatherings won’t escalate and at worst, be noisy. However, it will sometimes lead to street racing, Hasse said.
Westminster PD is working with businesses to provide no-trespass orders for car clubs congregating in their lots. The department is also reaching out to car clubs directly and asking them to have peaceful gatherings. Esslinger said, “We as an agency and other agencies are open to working with all the car clubs for a solution.”
Westminster police and the other departments emphasized they are taking the issue seriously, even if it sometimes feels that the issue is rampant. Though the issue is complex, Esslinger said, “The last thing any police officer would want to do is knock on anybody’s door and report to that family member that somebody had lost their life due to this behavior of street racing that could have been prevented.”
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