Police operation in Birmingham city center to curb burnouts, donuts and more

Teams of police converged on an intersection in Birmingham city center on Friday evening as part of an ongoing effort to curb exhibition driving and illegal street racing in the city.

Investigators received information that a meeting was scheduled to take place at Second Avenue South and 23rd Street. They arrived to find about 30 vehicles and quickly shut down the party.

‘We heard what we knew were show driving and racing cues – the revving of the engines and things like that,’ Birmingham Police Deputy Chief Ron Sellers said. “We declared it an illegal gathering and asked everyone to leave.”

About 30 vehicles – imported, Dodge Chargers and Dodge Challengers – were at the rendezvous when the police arrived. It’s likely, Sellers said, that more would have arrived had the police not shown up.

Once the crowd began to disperse, officers set up a vehicle checkpoint a short distance away to check for illegal mufflers, unlicensed drivers, DUIs and any other violations.

At 9 p.m., the authorities were still compiling the list of citations issued and did not yet have a count to provide.

The vendors said Birmingham, like cities across the United States, has seen an increase in driving exhibits.

“We have responded to all the complaints we receive and sought information to lead us to where some of these encounters are going to take place,” he said.

“From time to time we would mount larger operations to try to combat this and this was one of those nights,” he said.

At least 20 officers from the crime suppression department, interdiction unit and special teams from the compound took part in Friday’s operation. After finishing at the initial location, officers split into teams and deployed to other areas of the city known to be hotspots for exposure driving.

“We’re going to do this all night,” Sellers said.

Teams of police converged on an intersection in Birmingham city center on Friday as part of an ongoing effort to curb exhibition driving in the city.

For nearly a year, Birmingham Police have focused on issues of exhibition driving and street racing.

“I can tell you that since we’ve seen an increase in driving exhibits in certain areas of downtown, the north and south neighborhoods have put more emphasis on those areas,” he said.

Since the spring, the department has issued more than 1,600 citations for violations associated with exhibition driving such as engine revving, burnouts, landing gear lights, “anything we see that is associated with exposure conduct”.

The exhibit drivers are smooth and sometimes hard to catch at the right time. They meet, do their burnouts, rev the engines, then take off and head to the next stop.

“As fast as they go through downtown or Southside, they’re off and on to another section of Birmingham or Trussville or Homewood or wherever,” he said. “They also tour downtown and suburban areas.”

With the substantial growth of downtown businesses and residences, complaints have also increased.

“There are a lot more restaurants, clubs, sidewalk cafes and loft dwellers,” Sellers said. “We have a low crime rate downtown,” Sellers said. “Our biggest issue is the loud noise that accompanies exhibition driving,” as well as the potential for injury, he said.

“It’s a question of quality of life,” he says.

Sellers said police are also working with the city attorney’s office to find ways to strengthen the noise ordinances so they can be applied to show driving.

“We get complaints from people in lofts on the third or six floors of some of these buildings and they hear constant mufflers,” he said.

He said many of the attendees were from Birmingham, but just as many from outlying towns. They simply move from one city center to another.

“It is,” he said, “a problem that everyone has.”

David H. Henry