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Kansas City has a problem with illegal street racing. Solving it is complicated

A man wearing a police uniform sits inside a radio studio talking at a microphone.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
KCPD traffic division operations Sgt. Grant Ruark talks about efforts to combat illegal street races and sideshows on KCUR's Up To Date on May 14, 2024.

City ordinances outlaw watching or participating in street racing or “sideshows” where drivers engage in illegal stunts. But the issue persists.

The Kansas City Police Department rolled out its summertime Entertainment District Plan the first weekend of May, which means increased police presence in high-traffic entertainment areas like Westport and the Plaza.

The plan is partially in response to rampant street racing and '"sideshows," which are motorized stunt exhibitions on public streets.

KCPD is unable to pursue vehicles for traffic violations, such as sideshow participation, unless the driver is suspected of a violent felony.

“I’m not making excuses for why we can't do something, I’m really not, but that is the long and the short of it,” traffic division operations Sgt. Grant Ruark said on Up To Date. “I mean, if they don't stop, we can't pursue.”

In April, a joint operation involving police in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, resulted in dozens of arrests and citations of sideshow participants. KCPD disabled 39 cars with stop sticks and towed three others.

Among those arrested was one of "the ringleaders," Ruark said.

"Unfortunately for him, he hit the stop sticks that we deployed as he was leaving the area and the helicopter was able to follow him to the point where his car finally just gave out and we were right behind him at about two miles an hour.”

Ruark said the Kansas City Council is looking into new measures to combat illegal street racing and sideshows.

  • Grant Ruark, traffic division operations sergeant at the Kansas City Police Department
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