Colorado Springs police driving traffic ticket (copy)

Colorado Springs police are pursuing an ordinance that would allow officers to seize cars from drivers who are cited for road races in town, police said. In this file photo, Colorado Springs police officer Kyle Bergstreser explains a ticket to a driver caught speeding 10 mph to 15 mph over the limit, changing lanes without signaling and driving without proper vehicle registration along Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs police are pursuing an ordinance that would allow officers to seize cars from drivers who are cited for road races in Colorado Springs, according to the police chief.

The municipal ordinance, which is currently being finalized with the city attorney’s office, “would create a civil process to allow (police) to seize vehicles that have been used in certain crimes and traffic-related offenses,” Chief Vince Niski told Colorado Springs City Council members during a work session earlier this week.

In addition to speed racing, police could seize cars that were involved in a drive-by shooting, vehicular eluding, prostitution and pimping, Niski said.

The police department declined to provide further information, noting that the ordinance is still being finalized.

“Street racing is absolutely a problem in Colorado Springs and has been for some time,” said Natashia Kerr, a spokeswoman for the department. “While we already engage in community education, enforcement, and more, having this ordinance will give us another tool to help combat this problem.”

Since January, police have received 502 complaints from residents about street racing, according to data from the department. Officers have reported 25 cases in the same time period.

Police say citing street racing is difficult and it’s often difficult to locate the vehicle. Once found, it is hard to prove under the law that they were racing, Kerr said. The department said it is turning toward “proactive” solutions, like increasing enforcement in areas where street racing is prevalent and installing speed bumps in certain areas of the city.

Don Knight, a Colorado Springs city councilman representing the northwest, said street racing has been an unabating issue for years despite repeated requests for more police presence in the area.

“If they are promised it, they are not seeing it and it only makes them more frustrated,” Knight said. “Speeding complaints in neighborhoods has been a constant my entire time on council.”

It's unclear when the ordinance will be finalized.

Colorado Springs is not alone in looking toward implementing harsher penalties on street racing in order to protect drivers and pedestrians.

Last week, Suffolk County Police Department in New York arrested 12 people and seized 10 cars during an undercover sting operation, Newsday reported.

Last month, the Atlanta City Council formally asked the Georgia General Assembly to change state law to allow officers to seize cars involved in street racing, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It’s unclear how successful the ordinance has been in curbing speed racing in places where police have adopted it.

Reach Olivia at olivia.prentzel@gazette.com.

Twitter: @oliviaprentzel

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