In the months since the horrific multi-car crash on Glenoaks Boulevard resulting in the death of three young adults whose car was hit by two vehicles street racing, many Burbank residents have contacted the Burbank Police Department to report street racing and reckless driving.
Enforcement of and quick response to reported street racing can be challenging and dependent upon available police resources, officers with the Burbank Police Department and Glendale Police Department have said. Traffic Division officers in the Burbank and Glendale Police Departments have offered some advice to residents for effective reporting of reckless driving and street racing.
Street racing and reckless driving have long been ongoing complaints of residents from the Hillside to the Flats and everywhere in between, for several years. Police usually have to witness the street racing or reckless driving in person in order to make a traffic stop or issue a citation or arrest. But, there are some steps residents and witnesses can take to assist the police in tracking down dangerous drivers on city streets.
“Video is everything,” commented Lt. John Pfrommer of the Burbank Police Traffic Division. He cautioned that observers who are also driving their own cars should not use their hand held devices to video. He noted many cars now utilize dash cams and GoPros to record while driving. Passengers may also be helpful for video recording reckless driving from a moving vehicle.
Video of the dangerous behavior is most useful, but photos and/or clear descriptions of make, model, color and license plates of the vehicles of concern are also useful. Video and citizen reports of street racing are helpful for officers to follow up with the registered owners of the cars and are noted and tracked.
“Part of the problem is that a lot of people will hear something and they’ll call it in as racing when they hear cars racing,” Pfrommer also said. “Part of the issue now is that with all the modified exhausts on the vehicles and the high-end performance cars that we have in Burbank that are pretty common.”
“As soon as they accelerate, people just assume that they’re speeding, when sometimes they’re not,” he continued. “But then there are obvious signs of cars speeding and racing.”
The three main vehicle codes relating to street racing violations are: exhibition of speed, speed contest and reckless driving.
“Be a good witness,” Pfrommer added. “Call it in. The only issue is, that… unless an officer is in the immediate area, the cars are usually gone by the time we get there. But we do get a lot of these cars.”
“We can kinda track if people are making multiple calls on the same vehicles, even if the officers don’t locate them that day, it’s something that we can try to follow up on,” Pfrommer also said. “Part of the issue is that you actually need officers to witness the violation for us to issue citations.”
“The good thing is to track the information, especially if you have chronic violators.”
Pfrommer said witnesses may contact the Burbank Traffic Division to make reports on chronic offenders at 818-238-3100.
Reckless driving and street racing are “definitely something somebody can report,” Pfrommer said. “If they’re just passing on info or if they want us to take a look into the matter. The license plates and car description helps us… are they Burbank residents or do they live outside the city? Has this vehicle been reported multiple times? Then we got a problem.”
Police officers may be able to issue citations or recommend illegal actions for prosecution from third-party video recordings, without officers needing to be present to witness, if the video clearly shows the offending car, license plate and driver racing or reckless driving and “elevates to a misdemeanor,” explained Sgt. Ben Bateman from the Glendale Police Traffic Division.
“Infractions are hard to enforce, not committed in my presence or my officers’ presence,” Bateman also said. “But if it’s reckless, and you have a camera of that reckless driving, we can write a report, we can investigate and we can prosecute that person, or at least present it to the District Attorney for prosecution, just based on the video evidence… if it clearly identifies the driver, too.”
“The new cameras that they have that record the front and the back side of your car when you’re driving, that’s good data,” he added.
Officers from both departments confirmed that local police agencies share resources and track vehicles that may cross city jurisdictions. For example, if reckless driving or street racing is witnessed by someone in Burbank and the driver heads into Glendale, witnesses may call the station in which the violation occurred and also call the jurisdiction that the vehicle entered.
“The easiest reporting is where they [reckless drivers] are at the time [of the call],” Bateman commented. “If they’re gonna go into the city of Glendale, they can call and report all of the information. Our units will respond if they’re available in that district to check.”
“We had one a couple weeks ago that ended up in a high speed… one of our motor officers arrested the driver, nearly 100 miles an hour back and forth on Glenoaks,” continued Bateman. “They sent the message out to everyone [multiple local agencies] to be on the lookout… [A] motorcycle officer saw the vehicle and ended up making an arrest… and towing the vehicle.”
“If you’re out driving on the street and you see reckless driving or a speed contest, the faster you can call to report that, the more likely we can have units responding to that area to be able to address that issue,” Bateman said.
Pfrommer and Bateman said that if a vehicle accident or street racing is observed, to call 911, or the stations directly. Glendale Police’s non-emergency number is 818-548-4840. Burbank Police’s non-emergency line is 818-238-3000.