Fresno leaders, police working to curb illegal street racing

The city is also discussing legal options for the street racing community, including building a raceway.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Whether it's a quiet neighborhood or busy corridor, signs of street racing and sideshows can be found throughout Fresno.

Last year, Fresno police stopped 50 speed contests and made 76 reckless driving arrests - numbers Sgt. Jeff LaBlue says don't reflect the magnitude of the problem in the city.

"They show off their cars. It becomes a social outlet for them given everything being shut down. It's adding to it, but it's been a long existing problem for the Fresno Police Department," says LaBlue.

The pandemic meant finding ways to limit person-to-person contact and that meant limiting traffic stops.

Sgt. LaBlue says, "With the proper PPE and learning the virus moving forward, enforcement is coming back up to speed."

While the department is ramping up gang enforcement operations, they are also focusing on traffic enforcement through saturation patrols as fatal collisions are on the rise.

Growing tributes to the lives lost as a result of street racing, can be found near the intersection of Palm and Bullard.

RELATED: 'It didn't have to end in a tragedy': Police say Fresno crash that killed 4 people was avoidable

December 26th ended in tragedy, minutes after police tried pulling over an 18-year-old street racer.

Investigators say Irvin Villarreal blew a red light going more than 100 miles per hour when he slammed into a truck and a Mini Cooper, ultimately killing himself and three others.

Fresno Councilman Mike Karbassi says, "I was born and raised in northwest. Palm, and Bullard is really the heart of the district, and I've never seen something this bad."

Councilman Karbassi says City leaders are working on a two-pronged approach to address reckless driving, including increasing patrols on major corridors like Herndon and Blackstone and education.

Karbassi adds, "We're going to have 100 billboards encouraging folks to make the right decision - slow down and save a life. I know it sounds simple but we need to remind ourselves of what the stakes are."

But he says that messaging starts at home.

While this is still in the early stages, the city is discussing legal options for the street racing community, including building a raceway.
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