BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The street racing issue is not new to law enforcement. Police agencies have held special town halls and periodic enforcement operations aimed at cracking down on the illegal behavior in our community.
Street racing is something that the Bakersfield Police Department keeps close tabs on. Not only because of the racing itself, but the department said it also has correlations with things like alcohol-related driving, narcotics, and illegal firearm possession.
The Bakersfield Police Department is no stranger to street racers. Sgt. Robert Pair of the Bakersfield Police Department said that although their department has held several street racing enforcement operations, the city hasn’t seen a significant decline in the number of street racing calls to police. The deadly street racing incident on Thursday night serves as a reminder that the problem is still very real.
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“Have we stopped it? No. I think you talk to anybody in the city of Bakersfield, it’s still an ongoing problem, and we’re cognizant of that,” said Sgt. Robert Pair, Bakersfield Police Department. “I would like to say that that’s an anomaly, but we’ve seen that before."
Pair said law enforcement agencies up and down the state are having similar trouble with street racing. He said where BPD sometimes runs into staffing issues because officers often have to prioritize other calls, like life and death situations.
“We get a report of 400-500 vehicles blocking an intersection, sending two cop cars there, there’s not exactly a respect for law enforcement. It’s not going to have a noticeable impact,” added Pair.
Pair said the department is coming up with strategies that will impact situations like that. Consistently having appropriate staffing for large gatherings like that simply isn’t feasible, but he also adds the department works with various other partner agencies like the California Highway Patrol, to strategize.
“We’re not gonna get into a lot of details about things we may or may not be doing to curtail this type of activity because we want it to be successful.”
If you witness street racing activity that appears to be dangerous or cause an emergency, you’re encouraged to call 911. According to Pair, police resources would be better served, if the problem is more of an annoyance.
“I live in Bakersfield. I hear the same things that people complain about. However, we would encourage you to use the non-emergency number."
The non-emergency number is (661) 327-7111.
Pair said before the pandemic there were talks about the possibility of using local raceways as a safe space for street racing groups. He says those talks halted as soon as the pandemic prohibited large gatherings.