Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott announced Thursday that his administration was creating a new task force to combat street takeovers in the state after a recent incident resulted in law enforcement being attacked.
“Launching a statewide task force with @TxDPS to combat the rise in dangerous street takeovers happening across Texas,” Abbott wrote on Twitter. “Texas is a law-and-order state and will not tolerate these reckless, coordinated criminal events.”
The most recent incident that garnered significant media attention happened over the weekend in Austin and resulted in multiple arrests on reckless driving, weapon, and drug charges.
🚨#WATCH: As chaos erupted overnight as dozens cars takeover attacking police
📌#Austin | #Texas⁰⁰Chaos erupted in Austin Texas after a significant, coordinated street race / takeover event took place last night as multiple vehicles blocked traffic doing donuts. When Austin… https://t.co/TMjLC0hY39 pic.twitter.com/ZddAmsUM7s
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) February 19, 2023
Multiple people set on fire in street takeover in Austin Texas. pic.twitter.com/L7sIak1bGV
— Lexit (@LexitMovement1) February 21, 2023
Abbott’s office said that the new task force would be led by members of the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, Texas Highway Patrol, Aviation Operations Division, and Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division, working in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies statewide.
The task force will conduct state-level investigations that go after the “organized crime” groups behind the illegal and highly dangerous street takeovers, according to Abbott’s office.
The statement said that the task force’s goal is to seize the vehicles, weapons, and drugs and make felony arrests resulting in serious prison time for those responsible for the street takeovers.
“Despite the foolish attempts by some local officials to defund and demoralize our brave law enforcement officers, Texas is and remains a law-and-order state,” Abbott said in a statement. “We must send a clear message that these reckless, coordinated criminal events will not be tolerated in Texas. This statewide task force will work closely with local officials and law enforcement to investigate, prosecute, and prevent these dangerous street takeovers.”
DPS Director Steve McCraw said that the illegal events put the lives of Texas citizens and law enforcement at risk.
“We are seeing fireworks fired at officers in crowds, lasers pointed at aircraft, drivers driving upwards of 130 miles per hour with no lights on in the dark of night-all of it is reckless, and it needs to be stopped,” he said.
Houston is another city in Texas where street takeovers are happening on a regular basis. Local media reported that street takeovers have led to more than 1,500 arrests over the last two years.