The LAPD says illegal street racing and stunt driving are getting worse, especially in the San Fernando Valley.
The department says racing and so-called street takeovers are up 27% from this time last year and as many as three deaths may be connected with illegal racing. Valley Traffic Division has a task force that deals with this on a regular basis, but last night, I was invited to a larger secret operation with the LAPD and the CHP. LAPD Sergeant Jodie McGee leads the briefing.
"Keep it super safe, super simple. Stay on the outsides wait for your units to get there, stack up, and then come in and take it over."
McGee says the task force is split into two teams. One east of the 405, one west of the 405. He uses chalk to draw an intersection on a concrete pillar in a parking garage to illustrate procedure.
"Don't try and drive right here into the center, Because these guys are violent, okay. They have been known to carry guns. They carry high-powered lasers, they will, they will screw with your vision. They mess up your cornea and your retina."
Now it's time to head out.
I'm riding with Captain Andy Neiman and intel comes in quick. Some cars are beginning to gather in a Denny's parking lot.
"We got a white Hyundai, silver BMW, silver Chrysler, black Nissan and a black Charger. And we also have a black Infinity, two-door, no front plate on the north side of Denny's."
And just as soon as those cars pull out of the lot officers start pulling them over.
It's about 5:30pm and a guy already gets popped for a DUI. Now Captain Neiman takes me to a well-known spot where the cars do donuts and disrupt the neighborhood.
"So this has been a problem location for us for quite a while and one of the remedies that we implemented here was we installed a number of speed humps if you will. These rubber speed humps are basically drilled into and then glued to the street to prevent them from doing their donuts."
Well I only see one there. How does that help?
"Well, it doesn't because what they did was they were able to come in here and actually remove the speed humps utilizing industrial torches and some other drilling equipment. You can see the remnants of where they used to be, because they've already heated it up."
We just get back in the car, then...
[police radio] "Several vehicles racing in the area, second hand info from CHP."
The race is on, this time near Lake View Terrace. It's on Foothill just off the 210."
"Units responding to Glen Oaks and Sheldon be advised Sheldon is closed eastbound at the railroad tracks in San Fernando due to construction."
We get there as fast as possible.
[police radio] "Going westbound towards Sunland."
All of the sudden...
"Here they come."
"Be advised, We got these ones that were going southbound, uh westbound we got them stopped."
The drivers come straight at us. A couple of cars veer into our lane and swerve at the last second. Captain Neiman swings around and follows behind the motorcycle officer to lend backup. The motor officer pulls over one of the cars.
"But you have the paperwork for Alfredo."
"Alfredo didn't register the car."
"You didn't register the car. So the car hasn't been registered for two years."
The driver claims he didn't know the car wasn't registered and he has no ID or insurance. So... the car is impounded.
Total operation last night netted 81 citations, three arrests and three impounded vehicles. And as Captain Neiman put it.... it's just another day in the Valley.