A tragic accident at Palm and Bullard avenues in December that resulted from street racing and claimed the lives of four people was a pivotal event that heightened law enforcement agencies’ resolve to battle street racing in Fresno.
Now, for the first time in recent memory, the California Highway Patrol is joining forces with Fresno Police and the California Bureau of Automotive Repair to saturate areas known for the illegal activity.
“The attitude is changing,” said Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi, whose office has been inundated with calls from residents frustrated with the numbers of street races in his northwest Fresno district. “There is going to be a very targeted operation.”
Karbassi hopes warning about the operation, which will start in coming days, will be enough to make some of those involved think twice about continuing to do it. Billboards are going up to let residents and street racers know that things are about to change.
“The attitude is changing. There is going to be a very targeted operation.”–Fresno City Councilmember Mike Karbassi
“There is an automatic 30-day impound (of your vehicle) if you are stopped for speeding,” said Karbassi. “If you get caught for racing, the expectation is you can and will get impounded.” He adds there are also fees, the ticket itself, and the impact on car insurance rates going forward.
The Fresno Police posted a message on its social media accounts that says the insurance premium can increase as much as 50%. Fresno Police Lt. Rob Beckwith said with all the fees, ticket, impound, and insurance costs, street racers could have to shell out $16,000.
Once the operation begins, Beckwith said, it’ll be ongoing with no specific end date. He said racers who have tried to elude police at high speeds won’t be able to easily do so this time. There will be unmarked patrol cars and undercover officers working in conjunction with the other members of the team.
“Fixed-wing aircraft as well as our Sky Watch helicopter will be used,” Beckwith said. “It‘s very important to us that we’re able to to put together an operation like this with other partners in law enforcement.”
Where and When?
“It’s to combat most of the activity that we are seeing, mostly on the weekend days and evenings.” – CHP Officer Michael Salas
Based on data showing where the illegal street racing is happening, Karbassi says the emphasis will be on city streets.
He says the problem is especially big around the Blackstone and Bullard area. “That tragic accident we had the day after Christmas at Palm and Bullard was a race that started on Blackstone,” Karbassi said.
The CHP will say only that the crackdown will begin in the coming days.
“We do have several operations that are in the works right now,” said CHP Officer Michael Salas. “It’s to combat most of the activity that we are seeing, mostly on the weekend days and evenings.”
Salas said the problem is becoming more prevalent within the city, and it’s time to send a strong message by law enforcement that it’s not allowed. He says the CHP is seeing a spike in the number of illegal street races in the Central Valley.
Bureau of Automotive Repair
A couple officers with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair also will be a part of the ongoing efforts.
“It is a very big deal, because they deal with all the modifications that occur to vehicles that are out of code, and they can give hefty fines for that and fix-it tickets as well,” Karbassi said.