Police use Twitter to help combat Atlanta street racingBy Valencia Jones

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called Atlanta’s ongoing street racing problem a side effect of COVID-19.

“It’s reckless, and it shouldn’t be happening in our city,” Lance Bottoms said. “We are continuing to use technology and our discretionary units to respond to street racing activity.”

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She spoke on the issue during today’s press briefing, saying between last Friday and Sunday, police made 43 traffic stops, issued 97 citations and impounded two cars. Last month, Atlanta police said they had arrested 459 people for street racing since January. Bottoms and law enforcement officials have said it’s a national problem.

“These things happen pretty spontaneously. All of a sudden there will be something go out over social media or some internal text that they do, and a whole group of people will show up,” said Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Michael O’Connor, during a recent police press conference.

O’Connor says racers have organized at places like The Varsity and near the Mercedes Benz dome, and the groups often clear the scene before officers can respond. When caught, the charges vary from racing, laying drag, which means driving in circles or zigzagging, to reckless driving.

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Street racers can face up to six months in jail and a thousand dollar fine for each offense. Additional fines are possible under the city ordinance.

“They now know that with the assistance of the Georgia State Patrol and ourselves, and the fact that we’ve been making a number of arrests, and [APD has] a Twitter service that says they’re making a number of arrests here, that tends to disburse the group rather quickly,” O’Connor said.

Police say they’re already seeing a decrease in these violations, and Bottoms says she anticipates a bigger one as the city begins to reopen.

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She’s urging people to go beyond posting videos of these incidents on social media by calling 911.