Rogue Racers pt. 2: How law enforcement plans to handle street racing

Oregon State Police say they plan to use aircraft and unmarked vehicles to put a stop to street racing in southern Oregon. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

Medford, Ore. - Residents living along Highway 140 in Jackson County say they hear street racing regularly, but as soon as they call law enforcement, the drivers scatter.

"By the time we get out there, they're pretty much gone or we're not able to see any racing," Sgt. Jeff Proulx with Oregon State Police says.

Back on March 17th, that's what happened after getting a street racing call. Racers listen to police scanners in order to hear when law enforcement gets a call about street racing.

Even though people on social media say to call it in every time, OSP says they don't get too many calls about it. Even the few they do get, though, is more than they have received in a long time.

"We have seen it come back, there's a little resurgence," Proulx says.

Sergeant Proulx says years ago law enforcement partnered with the raceway out on Highway 140 for an 'Import Night' allowing drivers to race their cars and, more or less, get it out of their system.

He says with this resurgence of street racing, OSP does not plan to organize a similar event - they want to stop the street racing.

"We have access to an [aircraft] or two that we'll be putting up when we get word of them," Proulx says. "They post a lot of stuff on social media so we're monitoring social media sites and seeing when they do these events."

OSP plans to work with local agencies like Jackson County Sheriff's Office to eliminate street racing altogether. JCSO says it gets even fewer calls than OSP about it and when they do, they rarely see it happen.

"The county roads that we patrol on are usually narrow roads without shoulders, two lane highways - very dangerous for speed racing," Captain Eric Fox says.

Fox says JCSO gets more calls in the summer due to kids being home from school and out for summer vacation.

"What we need is for people to let us know it's happening and when and what location so we can take the appropriate action to deal with it," Fox says.

On social media, many residents who hear about street racing debate whether or not it's dangerous. Some say it's dangerous for everybody involved, from drivers to bystanders.

Other see racing's benefits - if, and only if, done the right way.

"If they're really serious about going fast, they should be at the race track on Friday or Saturday nights so they're not involving the public in a dangerous situation," Kim Kelley, a Jackson County resident, says.

Having said that, Kelley does not exactly disapprove of the racing along Hwy 140 in the middle of the night.

"The street racing though, should be done in a safe environment whether it be on 140 or at the race track," Kelley says.

As a resident who used to race when he was growing up and as a father who helps fix up his kids' first cars, Kelley understands the risks of racing and wants other kids and young adults who might race on the street to know how dangerous it can be.

"It is a loaded gun and if you do it wrong, it's going to go off and somebody is going to be probably the injured party rather than you," Kelley says.

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