Tacoma votes to go after spectators at illegal street racing events

On Tuesday, Tacoma City Council voted to crack down on street racing by going after people watching the illegal events.

The council unanimously passed a new law that makes spectators a target for arrest. People found guilty can face a month in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Originally, the penalty was up to three months in jail, but council modified the language of the new law.

The city defines "spectator" as anyone who knew about the street-racing event, encouraged it, or is affiliated with it.

Street racing has been an issue for the city since 2021.

There was an 8.5% increase in 911 calls for street racing in 2021 in comparison to 2020, according to police numbers.

In the first two months of 2022, the numbers show there were 180 calls for street racing. Looking at the same time period of 2020 there were 84 calls. That is a 114% percent increase.

This past Sunday, neighbors report a group of people took over the intersection of the 36th Street and Tyler Street in Tacoma.

"I was expecting to be gone five, ten minutes, and I was gone for almost an hour," said Stephanie, a neighbor who did not want to use her last name.

Stephanie says she couldn’t get back to her home due to the road being blocked by the illegal exhibition of speed.

She says not only is it a nuisance, but a safety concern.

"It’s nerve racking. Even sitting in my car, I was unsettled and shaking because I thought someone was going to get hurt," she said.

Stephanie agrees something needs to be done to address this issue, but questions how law enforcement will determine who truly is a "spectator".

The new law is expected to go into effect the first week of May.

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