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Police, Memphis City Council cracking down on drag racing

Memphis police reported a 259% surge in arrests for reckless driving and drag racing between March 1 and May 31.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis police provided new details Tuesday showing new challenges with reckless driving and drag racing in our area. 

ABC24 also learned social media is fueling some gatherings of as many as hundreds of cars doing donuts, speeding and risking the lives of innocent drivers around them.

Memphis police said the troubling trends continue, affecting every precinct area.

While police are monitoring and patrolling, those in neighborhood associations are also doing their part to protect their surrounding roadways, increasingly under siege in recent months.

"It's a serious safety issue and I just don't understand why people just don't get it," Tanja Mitchell, an Uptown community advocate, said Tuesday.

For her, the issue is especially personal.

"Just a few weeks ago, I had a very dear friend, he was passing some people doing the donuts and the drag racing and I guess they got mad and they shot him," she said. "Thank God he's still alive, but was that really necessary?"

That crime is far from isolated. In its quarterly update to the Memphis City Council, Memphis police said between March 1 and May 31, reckless driving and drag racing arrests increased from 126 to 452, a 259% surge.

Authorities said the most arrests are happening in the North Main, Mt. Moriah, Ridgeway and Tillman precinct areas.

"These individuals come down to cause chaos, that's their whole intent," MPD Deputy Chief Paul Wright said.

Authorities also constantly monitor and adjust to chatter online about planned gatherings.

"We are not ignoring what we see on social media, that is an investigative opportunity for us," MPD Chief CJ Davis added.

Mitchell and those in her Uptown neighborhood are also banding together by keeping a close eye and reporting specific driving trends to police.

"We are all going to have to address this together, the police can't be everywhere at one time," Mitchell said.

MPD leaders are also pursuing other options to crack down harder on dangerous drivers.

"It's a massive intake of cars coming in and doing these things so we have to do better with laws and fines that we put out there, seizures of cars," Deputy Chief Wright said.

In recent months, the Tennessee Highway Patrol added resources and assisted on Memphis interstates.

RELATED: Drivers: expect to see more law enforcement on Tennessee roads in the next few weeks

Those with MPD are also hopeful officers in the next two graduating classes can focus more primarily on traffic enforcement.

If you see reckless driving or drag racing, you're asked to call 901-545-COPS or your local MPD precinct.

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