By Reno City Councilmember-Ward 2 Naomi Duerr
I have the honor of serving on the Reno City Council representing Ward 2. Last spring, I received a message from a terrified store owner who sent me a video of vehicles spinning donuts and tearing up the parking lot at the Reno Town Mall in Ward 2. Hundreds of spectators were visible in the video. The man was afraid to leave his store.
Following the incident, I immediately contacted the Reno Police Department. Over the next few months, I continued to discuss deterrence options with them. In June, RPD initiated its first regional enforcement efforts, and I began posting how to report illegal street racing on social media and dialoguing with residents. What I learned during this time was unsettling.
Street racing and ‘sideshows’ are a growing concern across America. Sideshows are displays where drivers take over intersections or parking lots and attempt to show off their driving skills. While some consider these activities harmless—just “Kids being Kids”—most residents and police officers disagree.
Participating in and watching sideshows are both illegal and dangerous. Bullies often lock down areas and swarm an unsuspecting driver’s vehicle, attacking with spray paint, tire irons and more, resulting in thousands of dollars of damage and frightened drivers and families. Illegal fireworks may be launched posing a significant fire danger.
Spectators are urged to touch “spinning” cars which has resulted in injuries, including a local teen who was hospitalized. Two local women were also hospitalized due to a crash while fleeing a sideshow in South Reno. The noise is often deafening, disturbing the peace for miles.
When the intersection takeover on Veterans Parkway occurred in mid-September, I began interacting with residents through the NextDoor app and even went so far as to call commenters directly to get their input. I then put together a series of recommendations to assist RPD and presented them to City Council. I called for a regional law enforcement press conference, more frequent use of the Sheriff’s Raven helicopter, new laws with greater penalties and impound times, and the formation of a standing task force, similar to one in Las Vegas, so that all of our region’s law enforcement tools and personnel could be brought to bear.
The Sheriff immediately increased access to Raven and a regional press conference took place on October 6 during which Police Chief Soto announced significant numbers of arrests, citations and vehicle impoundments, and reiterated the City’s Zero Tolerance policy.
City Council recently approved an investment of $11.9 million in software and equipment to further help our police officers track and apprehend criminals. Additional staffing will be discussed during this year’s budget workshops and a Legislative package related to street racing is now being prepared.
The new measures will build on the significant public safety steps the City Council has taken over the last three years: adding 33 new police professionals, developing a new state-of- the-art Police Station, and creating a new forensics team within RPD.
I am so grateful to our Reno Police Department and our regional partners for their hard work and innovative ideas, and to the City Council, City staff and residents for their support of Public Safety.
Today’s street racing is not just “kids being kids” and it’s a lot more than “donuts.” It’s one of the many complex public safety issues facing the city—one which requires experience and a willingness to think ‘outside the box’. Public safety IS my top priority and we have made great strides. We owe it to ourselves to continue the momentum that we have built.
We get results together—and results matter.
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