Wheeler: Portland cracking down on illegal street racing
Mayor Ted Wheeler and members of the Portland Police Bureau held a press conference to publicizes the city's new efforts to crack down on illegal street racing on Tuesday. They include a new ordinance with stiff penalties and partnership with the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office to overcome the bureau's staffing shortage.
"Portlanders across the city have been deeply impacted by these street takeover events," Wheeler said during the Sept. 28 event at North Precinct. "These illegal and dangerous acts put both participants as well as the bystanders at significant risk."
The press conference followed a late Sunday mission in North Portland that resulted in 12 arrests, the seizure of seven cars, and the recovery of two illegal firearms. Wheeler and Acting Lt. Mike Roberts said it was just the beginning of a sustained effort to stop the street takeovers and races that have repeatedly shut down bridges, intersections and neighborhoods over many months.
Illegal street racing can have deadly consequences. Since July 2020, police said there have been five deaths related to street races in the city. A motorcyclist died during a street race in April.
The new ordinance approved by the City Council covers participants, whether they're involved in the street racing or blocking streets for the takeover, Chief Chuck Lovell said in a video released on Saturday, Sept. 25. On top of potential criminal charges under existing law, participants will face a 30-day jail sentence, a $500 fine and their vehicle may be towed.
In recent months, the bureau has cited a lack for resources and personnel for why street racers were able to take over city streets repeatedly.
"I cannot underscore enough the importance of partnerships with other law enforcement organizations," Wheeler said.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune and contributed to this story.
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