I-TEAM: Councilman calls on La. lawmakers to address street racing problem
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The WAFB I-TEAM tracked dozens of calls that flooded into the 911 call center in East Baton Rouge as street racers took over several spots across Baton Rouge over the weekend.
Three people, including Jatyrian Dyson, Brody Gautreaux, and Robert Clemon, have been arrested in the case and more arrests are possible.
On Tuesday, April 11, BRPD stated that two arrests were made and multiple citations were given out after weekend drag racing.
Officials said eight vehicles were towed and placed on a 15-day hold, five citations were issued for drag racing, 15 citations were issued for drag racing (spectator), and there were two felony arrests.
According to detectives, hundreds of vehicles with fake license tags were observed and hundreds of individuals were participating in this activity.
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Council members have already gone after street racers by strengthening penalties before but one councilman says they have done just about all they can do to solve the problem and they may need state lawmakers to get involved.
The car stunts, burnouts, and engine revving were happening in several spots, including along St. Phillip Street at South Boulevard, Florida Street, and on Bluebonnet Boulevard, where one caller said the street was basically shut down in the chaos of it all. In fact, more than 50 people called in, asking for help from police.
”This is a threat to public safety and this is a threat to our peace in this community,” said Councilman Rowdy Gaudet. “So, residents are fed up and frustrated with it and so they can report it to 911 and let law enforcement deal with it.”
Despite all the 911 calls over the weekend, only three people were ticketed for the mayhem. Gaudet says law enforcement is working to bring even more folks involved to justice.
“I would ask people to not lose hope and that an investigation continues,” added Gaudet.
He helped lead the charge last year to strengthen penalties for people caught up in these car stunts, increasing the fine from $500 to $1,000 for first-time offenders and giving law enforcement more avenues to go after violators on the local level.
”We increased the penalties. We made it where a spectator can also be charged. We made it where we can impound vehicles. So, the tools I feel like are in place although let me say, we continue to work with law enforcement if we can continue to tweak it and make improvements,” explained Gaudet.
He also said the number of these illegal stunts and street races has dropped in the last three years but he believes they are maxed out on how they can tackle the problem on the local level and says Louisiana lawmakers may need to get involved.
”When we have incidents like we had this weekend, we want to revisit what can we do and part of that is yes, visiting with our state legislators to say this is what we’ve done on the local level, we can go no further from a council perspective and from a local legislation perspective. Let’s talk about what can be done at a state level,” noted Gaudet.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Gaudet if he believes having state lawmakers change these offenses to felony charges would prevent them from participating in street races and car stunts.
”Yes, I would say visiting the idea of making this a felony is the next logical step,” said Gaudet.
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