Fresno kicks off crackdown on street racing, sideshows

The Fresno Police Department will be able to utilize a new city ordinance that was recently passed by the city council to target all street racing participants and spectators.

Fresno is putting the breaks on street racing and sideshows, launching its summer campaign on Monday to deter the dangerous and deadly stunts. 

The city’s new campaign will be bolstered by a recent ordinance passed by the city council that will take effect later this month. 


The big picture: Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer, Police Chief Paco Balderrama, and City Councilman Mike Karbassi held a press conference at City Hall to push the message out that the city has a zero-tolerance policy for street racing and sideshows. 

  • Dyer noted that a significant number of people who participate in street racing and sideshows throughout Fresno are visiting from the Bay Area or Southern California, using Fresno as a meeting ground for their exhibitions. 
  • Along with campaigns through traditional and social media, the city has also created a dedicated hotline for people to call if they witness a street race or sideshow. The hotline’s number is 621-RACE. 
  • With 20 traffic fatalities so far this year, the city has matched where it was at this time last year. 

The backstory: Last year, the city funded 10 officers and one sergeant to create the street racing team in the police department with the intent to eliminate street racing and sideshows in Fresno. 

What we’re watching: The city council recently passed an ordinance that brings penalties on anyone participating in sideshows, including spectators. Violators would be charged with a misdemeanor that has a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $1,000. The ordinance will go into effect on June 22. 

  • The city will also impound vehicles for at least 30 days and charge rent for each day the vehicle is in the city’s possession. 

What they’re saying: Balderrama said the police department has had four large-scale operations that have yielded 760 citations and 276 impounded vehicles in the past year, saying it’s “going to be the norm moving forward.” 

  • “Make no mistake about it, if you’re going to engage in one of these events, then we’re going to be out there in full force to stop you, to put you in jail, to take away your car,” Balderrama said. 
  • “We know that with school ending and the temperature heating up there will be a lot of our youth, our teens, our young adults tempted to show off their cars, and that’s OK,” Dyer said. “But not to be involved in any type of sideshows or street racing within our city or their effort to get an adrenaline rush, because that adrenaline rush will also come with a cost. And that cost is thousands of dollars in fines for people that are caught in street racing or sideshow events and possibly a potential trip to jail.”
  • “During the pandemic, we experienced a number of changes in our community. One of them was an epidemic of street racing,” Karbassi said. “Since then, what we’ve learned is that penalties work.”
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