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Street racing deserves harsher penalties, SLC police chief says

Feb 2, 2022, 5:33 PM
chief mike brown salt lake city police street racing...
FILE: Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown speaks at a press conference at the Public Safety Building in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 5, 2020. On Tuesday, June 7, 2022, Brown spoke out about the gun violence in Salt Lake City. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown spoke out Wednesday in support of a bill to increase penalties for street racing in Utah. 

Street racing happens surprisingly often in Salt Lake City. Brown told lawmakers the number of calls to his department for that offense rose dramatically from 2019 to 2020. In addition, he said, they have stayed high since. 

“Calls for service rose from 71 in 2019 to 409 in 2020,” Brown said on the floor of the Utah Senate. “That is a 467% increase in just one year. Our calls for service remained at an abnormally high level in 2021.” 

Brown said police departments across the country noticed a similar trend. 

Senate Bill 53 would change the definition of reckless driving in Utah to include racing. Violators could see their licenses suspended.

“Without immediate action by Utah legislators, those knowingly participating in and viewing illegal street racing events will become more brazen. We cannot allow our streets to be overtaken by a criminal element whose intent is to turn rural and neighborhood streets into illegal and potentially deadly dragstrips,” Brown said. 

Brown noted that investigators determined racing caused a fatal crash on April 18, 2021. According to Brown, a 19-year-old street racer crashed into a car performing a U-turn, resulting in the death of the second driver. 

Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored the bill. 

Read more: 

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Street racing deserves harsher penalties, SLC police chief says