PRESCOTT, AZ — In Yavapai County, there is a new effort to get street racers off the streets. However, the petition was not started by a frustrated neighbor, politician, or even the police. It is being led by street racers themselves.
"We have a family we want to come home to. So, we make sure we go to a safe environment -- as safe as we can," said Cliff Copeland.
Copeland is a Prescott Valley father of three. He also street races every Friday night.
"We usually have around 200 cars," he said. "We pretty much hang out, find an empty parking lot, and all the families come together."
For Copeland, the endeavor is all about community. He is quick to admit though, it comes with the risk of injury or death.
"We do take that risk... and there are lots of dangers. Anything can happen - from a blowout... to the car losing control. God forbid you hit somebody and take a life. Then you’re looking at manslaughter charges," said Copeland."
Copeland wants to make things safer, to protect drivers and the general public, but that means moving things off the streets and onto a track.
"There are a few places down in Phoenix, but they're starting to close," he said. "We have nowhere else to go."
Copeland started an online petition to use the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office (YCSO) facilities.
"They only use it a couple of times a month or so," claims Copeland. "I think it would be a great solution to help bring down the street racing."
In roughly a week, he quickly gathered more than 8,000 signatures.
The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says it is aware of the petition.
"It isn't going to happen," said Kristin Greene, a spokesperson for YCSO. "It isn't that we don't sympathize with the folks looking for a track, the issue is that they've sort of targeted the wrong one."
YCSO says there are multiple reasons why its track is not a good option. "Our track is part of our training facility, our police academy, and we do use it more often than I think the petitioners think we do," said Greene. "It's also a liability issue."
Prescott Valley Mayor Kell Palguta, a former police officer, is also in favor of more safety.
"I totally support their efforts in regards to this," said Mayor Palguta. "I think it is doable. It's just finding the right place, the right location, and the right partners to be involved."
Copeland's dream of "keeping people safe and giving them an option to let loose a little" likely will not happen on county property.
But he is not giving up. "It will not be the end of it. I will keep pursuing this until we have something for our community."