Sheriff Patrick Withrow says the new tactic was on display when more than 150 people were detained and 88 cars towed at a sideshow Friday night.
STOCKTON, Calif. — Law enforcement in San Joaquin County is setting a new standard for how they respond to sideshows after a major bust last weekend.
“It was just an unreal scene from when I got there,” said Michael Garcia, who lives near Stockton’s American Legion Park, the area where the sideshow bust happened.
It was chaos on Country Club Boulevard Friday night as a sideshow at Pershing Avenue ended with crowds of people detained and law enforcement in riot gear.
Garcia watched it unfold, hearing the sirens wail past his home.
“People were there sitting down, detained,” said Garcia.
The scene Friday night is part of what San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow says is a new approach for his department when it comes to breaking up street takeovers.
“They’re becoming more and more violent and so we feel that this is the best way to contain it,” said Withrow, adding that his department had been waiting to use the new tactic. “We were able to find out the location where it was going to occur and fairly quickly get people in place and then swoop in on all sides of that intersection there.”
The tactic proved effective for the department — stopping nearly all sideshow drivers and participants resulting in more than 150 people detained and 88 cars towed away.
“Between law enforcement on the street and our (District Attorney), we will be holding people accountable for this,” said Withrow. “We’ve already found guns, firearms and stuff like that from some of the vehicles at the scene and from our video evidence, we know that we’re going to find a lot more.”
Deputies seized so many cars this weekend that they had to store them outside of the sheriff’s office’s headquarters, requiring officials to work overtime to prevent anyone from getting to the cars.
“It was a pretty quick response from the police officers,” said Garcia. “I felt like their response was somewhat appropriate. It could have been handled a little better, but when you’re in the heat of that moment, you have to do what you have to do.”
Sideshow spectators at the scene Friday night said they were surprised with the law enforcement response.
“I think it was a little excessive, to be honest,” said Nicholas, a sideshow spectator. “I don’t think it should be this much just for kids sliding around in some cars.”
Some participants are calling for a place to be opened in the county that allows people to do doughnuts safely and legally.
“Ya’ll want the kids to stay out of trouble, ya’ll want money for the city? Give us a legal pit,” said Nicholas. “We wouldn’t be outside, if we had a legal pit for real.”
For now, without a legal location available, Sheriff Withrow is promising to crack down.
“It’s irresponsible, it’s criminal and you’re going to be held accountable for it,” said Withrow. “If you don’t want to be held accountable if you don’t want to lose your vehicle, if you don’t want to go through all the costs of defending yourself in court, then don’t attend these sideshows.”
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