The Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office worked in unison over the weekend to enforce traffic safety laws. The joint effort, "Operation Silent Knights," focused on those who make public streets their race track and endanger the safety of the public at large.
On Saturday night, June 24, 2023, Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office conducted "Operation Silent Knights" to stop illegal street racing in Tampa Bay in a proactive response to an event circulating on social media. The "Tampa Bay Wet-N-Wild" social media event encouraged street takeovers and reckless driving. Information was shared via social media apps, and drivers were urged to meet at illegally shut-down intersections in order to race and perform vehicle stunts such as "donuts" in front of spectators.
"The actions of these street racers not only disturb the flow of traffic but endanger the lives of those who come out to watch, the drivers and passengers involved, and innocent, law-abiding citizens who are either in their cars or walking and biking in those areas," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "To those who think they can break traffic laws and put the lives of others at risk, know that we are watching you. We see you online and on the road."
Street racers were arrested at multiple locations throughout Tampa and Hillsborough County. "Operation Silent Knights" led to the arrest of 15 individuals, 23 citations, and the seizure of 8 vehicles. Of those, Tampa Police Department arrested three suspects and seized two cars in the 4900 block of E. Busch Boulevard. 25-year-old Anthony Smieska and 22-year-old Robert Thompson were both charged with Unlawful Racing on the Highway - Driver/Vehicle. 30-year-old Ronald Dubose III was charged with Unlawful Racing on the Highway – Spectator.
"The Tampa Police Department and our public safety partners work daily to ensure the streets are safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike," said Chief Lee Bercaw. "Careless and reckless driving with complete disregard for the safety of others is unacceptable. It should be clear to anyone who thinks they can hold a street takeover anywhere in Tampa or Hillsborough County: we will catch you, we will arrest you, and we will impound your car."
Charges for those involved in illegal street racing include Unlawful Racing-Spectator, Unlawful Racing-Driver/Vehicle, Unlawful Racing on Highway, Operating an Unregistered Vehicle, Fleeing to Elude, and several drug charges.
If anyone has any information regarding the incidents from Saturday night or would like to report illegal street racing, call Tampa Police Department at 813-231-6130 or team HCSO at 813-247-8200.