Detroit police moved to reduce drifting and reckless driving this summer. (Screenshot from Jordan Garland video)

The Detroit Police Department has taken a hard stance this year against drag racing, drafting and reckless driving in the city. As temperatures began rising in the spring, many Detroiters complained about cars speeding through their neighborhoods.


When the department announced its drag racing and drifting detail back in March, it committed 60 officers to the detail, which was originally set to run every weekend until Labor Day. That detail grew in size over the next few months as Mayor Mike Duggan authorized an additional 2,000 man hours to the detail back in June. 

Interim Police Chief James White gave a year-to-date update on drag racing and drifting at Thursday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting. The department has impounded 186 vehicles, made 103 felony and nine misdemeanor arrests, and issued more than 2,300 citations for drifting and drag racing. 

White said the department has done a lot to quell reckless driving, but it has more work to do. 

“When you look at some of the social media videos, you would think that there’s really no work going on in that area,” White said. “But this again continues to be a unique crime trend that is happening around the country.” 

White says one of the biggest problems with reckless driving is that popular sports cars are much more powerful than they were decades ago. 

“You’ve got kids out here driving them in very risky situations, and we see a lot of injuries to a lot of people who lose control,” he said. 

Despite the department’s strategy to stop illegal drifting and drag racing, which includes monitoring social media and issuing citations to people who watch races from the sidelines, Detroiters still deal with the nuisance of cars speeding through their neighborhoods.

Police Commissioner Shirley Burch, who represents the city’s Third District, has been one of the more vocal commissioners about reckless driving. Burch said at July 22’s Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) meeting that a driver lost control of their vehicle and struck her house. 

“I’m not supposed to fear sitting in my house, my neighbors are not supposed to call me continually and say there are no solutions from the police,” Burch said. 

Community Advisory Council Chair Scotty Boman said during Thursday’s BOPC meeting that the reckless driving issue is tied to gun violence. 

“We have people racing down the streets with their cars, and people are shooting their firearms into houses,” Boman said. “That’s what really needs to be fixed, especially in the Fourth District.”

White says the department is continuing to meet with precinct commanders to address the problems. He says the department will continue impounding vehicles and making arrests, if necessary. 

“I don’t want to do it, but there’s one way that you can avoid being arrested: Don’t be out drag racing, and drifting, watching it, or participating in it,” White said.

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

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1 Comment

  1. We experienced this same drifting epidemic in Santa Rosa, CA last year.
    They call it “Side shows”.
    Hundreds of people would show up at an intersection in town and the “drifting” would start. There were videos taken and people in the audience would get hit by the cars. The city attacked it by putting street lane “buttons” all over the abused intersections. That prevented the activity but only from that neighborhood.
    Detroit Police might want to contact the Santa Rosa Police to see what else they have done to stop this practice.
    Santa Rosa is 50 miles north of San Francisco and has about 180,000 people and no winter.

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