The Harris County Sheriffs Office, Katy Police Department and other Greater Houston law enforcement departments have mobilized to fight street racing, said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez in a …
The Harris County Sheriffs Office, Katy Police Department and other Greater Houston law enforcement departments have mobilized to fight street racing, said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez in a press conference at Houston Raceway Park earlier this week. The increased enforcement comes as participants in the TX2K21 Roll & Drag Race Nationals event is being held at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown.
“Unfortunately, a handful of folks make the selfish decision to race on the same public roads our families use each and every day,” Gonzalez said. “They put lives in jeopardy and we have seen the deadly consequences. Just last month, our sheriff’s office deputies investigated a dangerous street incident that resulted in a crash that killed two young brothers, ages 14 and 16.”
Gonzalez said HCSO, the Texas Department of Transportation and Houston had all set up task forces to deal with street racing in Greater Houston. HCSO has purchased specially-designed Chevy Camaros to help with enforcement operations against street racers as part of its efforts to racing on public roadways. Since the task force was initiated in cooperation with Katy PD, Jersey Village, DPS and the Houston Police Department, HCSO alone has issued 91 traffic citations, made 17 felony arrests – on charges that include reckless driving, racing on a highway and deadly conduct – 29 misdemeanor arrests for DWI and other offenses. The department has also seized several vehicles, some of which have not been returned to their owners.
“I’m proud to work with all of these law enforcement agencies and support them,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. “And we’re not just doing it through traditional law enforcement, arrest, charge and prosecute – we’re seizing cars, and these cars are valuable.”
Ogg said that her office has worked with judges and law enforcement to permanently seize six vehicles, had 15 cases result in settlements with car owners and returned 18 vehicles. There are 47 additional automobile seizures that are still pending a decision.
Charges against the defendants in cases related to those charges include 36 charges of street racing, two for reckless driving, two for deadly conduct and at least one for engaging in organized crime, Ogg said.
Assistant Houston Police Chief Michael Skillern said that HPD had made 87 arrests in February, seizing 21 vehicles in the process.
Skillern emphasized that the effort to enforce traffic laws and catch illegal racers was a joint effort across the region.
“Just HPD will have close to 150 officers on our streets monitoring, waiting to find if this happens and arrest those involved along with the other (law enforcement) partners,” Skillern said. “Katy PD is also involved here and Harris County Precinct 5 (Constable Ted Heap’s office).”
HCSO officers have already made arrests this weekend as they work to combat drag racing on public streets. HCSO Capt. Tommy Shelton announced via Twitter that five arrests had been made for racing on a highway, at least one for driving while intoxicated and another on an arrest warrant through the department’s enforcement efforts. The arrests were all made in or near the Katy area. Locations include roadways near the intersection of FM 529 and Fry Road as well as near the intersection of The Grand Parkway and Morton Road. Another was also made near the intersection of Highway 290 and Barker Cypress Road, closer to the raceway.
Gonzalez said those with information related to illegal street racing activities should call 713-221-6000 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 713-222-8477. Emails may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston Raceway Park General Manager Seth Angel, who joined law enforcement officials at the press conference, said the park was committed to hosting a safe event and was partnering with police to combat street racing.
Angel said street racing aficionados are welcome to visit the raceway every Friday where they can pay for time on the track to race safely without endangering the public. The cost is $20.
“I’m proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder today with our law enforcement partners … in their pursuit to end this activity and rid our public roads and highways of illegal street racing of which its consequences can have and will result in participants facing jail time, serious injury to themselves and their property and their vehicles, and – God forbid – something worse, and at the same time endangering innocent and unknowing bystanders,” Angel said.