ATLANTA — Hundreds of dangerous drivers are taking over the streets of Atlanta on the weekends, and many are shutting down busy intersections where cameras have captured them performing the dangerous tricks.
There are also big cash pots up for grabs as some of the same drivers speed through residential areas.
A former Atlanta police recruit is under arrest, accused of participating in the street racing.
This recruit had only been in the academy since December. While his arrest may come as a surprise to many, the crime of street racing is a growing problem in Atlanta.
Homeowners in one neighborhood are speaking out because they're fed up and are calling on police to step up their patrols.
“You get the sound from the screeching tires when they’re doing the doughnuts,” one neighbor said, asking not to be identified. “If you’re trying to sleep, it will wake you up. It’s a nuisance. It’s disturbing, and it’s going on for hours and hours.”
There is no peace and quiet on the weekends, according to the neighbors.
“It’s just like we live in the middle of a war zone,” another neighbor told Channel 2′s Michael Seiden.
Channel 2 Action News obtained a video of one of the chaotic scenes that unfolded on the bridge along Peachtree Street near Deering Road at the edges of Midtown and Buckhead.
It shows a car spinning out in the middle of the street. The burn marks are still visible for days following the incident. Hundreds of people shut down the bridge as they watched on.
“You can hear them come from Midtown, and then they go down to Peachtree Hills, and then they circle up and back Peachtree,” a neighbor said.
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Since the pandemic began, social media has exploded with viral videos showing large crowds gathering on the streets of Atlanta watching in awe as dangerous drivers perform breathtaking tricks and race each other up and down residential streets and busy intersections.
Thick plumes of smoke fill the sky while drivers do doughnuts in the middle of the road.
When police arrive, the crowd scatters.
But clearly, this is the biggest problem: Officers are outnumbered.
“I don’t know what we as a neighborhood can do other than call 911 and hope that they’re going to come as soon as possible,” a neighbor said.
One neighbor Seiden spoke with said she's not only concerned about the noise, but she's also worried about public safety, especially when spectators in the crowds are shooting off fireworks.
Over the weekend, our cameras were there as police responded to Peachtree Street and Interstate 85 where investigators found nearly 100 cars in the street and several people shooting off fireworks.
The crowd moved to two other locations before police cleared them.
“They’re completely blocking the street. And I not only have a child in my home, but I also have my 87-year-old mother who has health concerns. And if something were to happen, we would not be able get out of neighborhood and get to the hospital fast enough,” the concerned neighbor said.
But street racing in Atlanta is nothing new.
In May, we reported on a weekend crackdown, which led to 44 arrests and 114 citations.
We also obtained exclusive body camera footage of Atlanta police officers and state troopers targeting suspected street racers.
APD officer: “We actually got vehicles on camera: a red charger and a black Mustang.”
Suspect: “I just got here. You don’t have me on tape.”
APD officer: "Yeah, we do."
Seconds later, a state trooper voices his frustration with the men.
Trooper: “Our time and resources are being spent. Taxpayer money spent on dumb stuff like this. We do this every night this week.”
No question, law enforcement has its hands full, especially in Atlanta where many officers have told Channel 2 Action News they're no longer being proactive when it comes to policing because they're scared they will be indicted.
You can imagine how stunned state troopers were last month when they found themselves chasing after a former Atlanta police recruit, Licarvio Cannedy, who is accused of participating in street racing and then leading troopers on a high-speed chase that topped speeds of 140 mph.
A spokesperson for APD told Seiden that Cannedy had been dismissed from the academy, adding that "actions that are reckless and bring discredit to the department will not be tolerated."
As for the neighborhood watch in the northwest Atlanta community, members say they are continuing to stay vigilant.
“How many times have you each called 911?” Seiden asked the neighbors.
“Four,” one neighbor said.
“Twice,” said another.
“I called once,” another neighbor said.
“I’ve never called because I don’t think it will do anything,” the last neighbor said. “We really need a partnership with the police, and I hope we haven’t sent them the wrong message.”
Atlanta police sent a statement to Channel 2 Action News about the street racers, saying:
“While instances of street racing are nothing new to us, there has indeed been an increase in this type of activity in recent months. For those living in areas where this is occurring, we certainly understand it is frustrating and concerning to experience this activity near your home. Reckless behavior such as this has no place on the streets of our city. While we have coordinated successful details addressing these activities in the past, we fully understand that our work is far from over. We continue looking at ways to better address these incidents and we constantly monitor trends and activity to determine where to place resources where they will have the greatest impact on criminal and reckless behavior.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the Georgia State Patrol as a partner and we are grateful for all of the assistance they have provided to us in addressing these and many other issues. “Regarding your question about response times, we can understand how frustrating it is to call 911 and have there be any kind of delay in police response. Overall we are able to respond quickly to calls for service. During times where we experience high call volume, we prioritize calls to ensure in-progress calls where there is a threat of harm to someone are dispatched first. Though it isn’t often, this does mean there could be a delay in response to lower priority calls where the threat to life isn’t there.”
Cox Media Group