To chase or not to chase: Downtown Memphis pushing police to end drag racing, donuts on city streets

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After too many close calls on Memphis streets, people who live downtown say they’re frustrated with constant drag racing and want to see action.

“It’s loud. It’s in the middle of the night. It’s extremely dangerous for people around and in the area,” said a 20-year downtown resident, who did not want to be identified.

He’s frustrated with the increase of drag racing and reckless driving nearby.

“It wakes you up, not just the drifting and drag and this kind of stuff, but gun shots, something we’ve been experiencing the last two or three months and has gotten extremely more prevalent,” he said.

He’s not alone in his concerns as downtown leaders say they are fed up as well.

Jerred Price with the Downtown Neighborhood Association says he met with police following an incident just this weekend.

“We saw a car doing donuts. The police came and simply got on the speaker system and said, ‘Hey you need to go.’ There was no attempt of a ticket, pull over, nothing,” Price said.

According to MPD’s vehicle pursuit policy, “vehicle pursuits are authorized only when an officer has probable cause to believe that one or more occupants of a fleeing vehicle have committed a violent felony.”

Even then an officer must get permission from a supervisor within one minute of starting that pursuit.

Residents say they understand the no-chase policy, but would like to see more police presence in the area.

In addition to more police presence, downtown leaders say they’re working on ways to address the traffic and reckless driving issues, which includes speed bumps and adding planters to make intersections smaller.

‘We think if we do these traffic calming implementations that it will reduce the number of incidents we see over time,” said Paul Young with the Downtown Memphis Commission.

Price said he spoke with officers at the North Main precinct late Tuesday afternoon. They’re working on new tracking technology that would allow officers to locate these vehicles even if they get away.

MPD did not respond to questions Tuesday.

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