PUYALLUP, Wash. — An 18-year-old believed to be responsible for the organization and facilitation of "numerous" illegal street racing events in King and Pierce counties was arrested in Puyallup Friday.
Tacoma officers arrested the male suspect who will initially be taken to King County for charges related to incidents within that county's jurisdiction.
An investigation continues for charges related to incidents in Pierce County.
"We want to make it clear that we are going to enforce these types of crimes because of the danger it poses to the community members and those that are participating," Tacoma Police Department Public Information Officer Wendy Haddow said. "Our goal is to keep everyone safe."
The suspect was arrested following a joint investigation between the Kent and Tacoma police departments.
The issue of illegal street racing appears to have only worsened recently, with Tacoma police saying in March that reports of the events have increased.
A year ago, the city council began working on a law to crack down on participants of the illegal events. At the time, calls grew louder following the infamous incident on Jan. 27, 2021, where police were called to an illegal event with more than 100 people and multiple vehicles blocking an intersection. A Tacoma officer was put on administrative leave after video showed him driving his vehicle through the crowd.
The council passed an ordinance in March 2021 to crack down on street racers. It did not include language related to spectators, however.
On Tuesday, the Tacoma City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that makes it illegal to watch an illegal street racing event, with a penalty of 30 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. The ordinance was amended, reducing jail time from 90 days.
"... preventing spectator attendance removes the motivation of performing for audiences and can help remove the entertainment and attention aspect of the exhibition of speed events, as such events often go viral when filmed and posted to social media or YouTube..." the ordinance states, in part.