PHOENIX — The Phoenix Police Department's Street Racing Task Force is becoming permanent. ABC15 got an exclusive interview on this new development as we continue to see the problem expand to high-traffic areas and takeover intersections.
Many people who live in Phoenix are reporting dangerous street behavior.
"Definitely the racing, cutting you off, you know, the loud cars," says one Phoenix resident.
That is what the Phoenix PD Street Racing Task Force constantly faces and it seems to be intensifying.
“Violence toward citizens, motorists who are frankly fed up pulling up to an intersection to see individuals trying to dominate that roadway and not allowing them to, you know, travel. So, we've had issues where racers will be damaging vehicles, they were assaulting citizens,” says Sgt. Joseph Mills, with the Phoenix Police Department Street Racing Task Force.
The department put together the unit in February of 2021 after seeing a crucial need. They tackle side-by-side racing, along with street and parking lot takeovers. At that time, it was only a trial phase.
"It takes time to develop investigative techniques and things to be successful in dealing with those types of issues," says Sgt. Mills.
Documents show they filed more than 850 reports in the past year and made nearly 450 arrests. The success in their enforcement efforts is resulting in the task force now becoming permanent. They are hoping to reduce 911 calls that currently fall upon patrol officers.
"Disbanding these groups and keeping them from building a following greater than they've already had," says Sgt. Mills.
It's not only the drivers who can face penalties, including fines and impoundment of vehicles for up to 30 days. Those involved — recording videos of the crime and posting them online — can face punishment too. We're told these groups are traveling throughout the Valley for planned events.
One situation happened just last month, with ABC15 first to break the story. A group took over a busy Scottsdale intersection, which ended in shots being fired. The same group then went to 16th Street and Glendale Avenue in Phoenix. Another street takeover took place that same night in Glendale.
"So, they could go from the far West Valley all the way over to the far East Valley in one night," says Sgt. Mills.
Phoenix PD is working together with other agencies across the Valley to tackle this problem.