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Leaders from Tacoma, Des Moines and Kent in favor of street racing bill

City and law enforcement leaders from Tacoma, Des Moines, and Kent all spoke in favor of the bill at a public hearing in Olympia last week.

KENT, Wash. — Multiple cities in King and Pierce counties have reported an increase in street racing. Now leaders from those cities are asking state lawmakers to pass a bill to help.

Leaders from Tacoma, Des Moines, and Kent spoke at a public hearing in Olympia last week asking state lawmakers to pass SB 5606. The bill would bolster current law, which police said is needed to prevent what they call an increasing problem.

“Well, it's not a new problem,” said Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla. “I would say that it's definitely intensified the last couple of years.”

Chief Padilla said street racing events are moving into busier areas and impacting businesses. He said that, due to social media, street racing gatherings have grown.

“I've seen races with 500-plus cars in them,” said Padilla.

He said the current state street racing laws make enforcement and prosecution difficult, which is why he hopes lawmakers can pass Senate Bill 5606. The bill would make multiple changes to current law, including the addition of drifting and intersection and parking lot takeovers to the definition of illegal street racing.

“What we're seeing now with the takeover-style events, where they're doing the drifting in the parking lot or in the intersection, bystanders are now getting killed,” said Padilla.

The bill would also allow police to impound a vehicle when a person is arrested and not allow the vehicle to be released for 72 hours.

“So, on Friday night, they get arrested for racing. On Saturday, they're back in the same car racing again,” said Padilla of why he wants to be able to impound vehicles for 72 hours.

The law would allow for the forfeiture of a vehicle if someone is convicted twice. It would also allow for a person to be charged in either the city where they planned the event or the city where the event actually happened.

“We're going after the organizers and they do this via social media or electronic platforms,” said Padilla. “And so a person in Pierce County can organize an event in Kent, so there's some jurisdictional potential issues there.”

Chief Padilla hopes this bill will pass to not only prevent racing, but to protect people throughout Washington.

“Every year people are injured or killed by this. So, it's a huge public safety issue,” said Padilla.

Watch: Suspect responsible for 'numerous' illegal street racing events in King, Pierce counties arrested 

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