SILVER SPRING, Md. - Police in Montgomery County are calling on leaders in Annapolis to stop the lawless car meet-ups and intersection take-overs — like the one that stopped traffic in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring this past weekend.
Montgomery County Police’s District 3 Commander Captain David McBain told FOX that "eventually, they’re going to kill somebody. Whether it’s themselves … We’ve seen it, right?"
Video shared on social media shows a large crowd forming a circle by the intersection of Fenton Street and Ellsworth Place, in the center of Downtown Silver Spring, as cars performed burnouts and donuts in front of spectators.
Other intersection takeovers have happened at that same location as well. However, McBain told FOX 5 that the department did not have the same intel to stop this Saturday’s incident or provide the same response they’ve done in incidents past.
One video appears to have been filmed by someone riding shotgun in one of the cars performing donuts. Other videos show the lawlessness unfolding right in front of officers.
Another video included in the mix appears to show the meet-up participants throwing snowballs and large snow chunks toward a police cruiser in what is believed to be Howard County.
That’s where the group fled after leaving Montgomery County.
"They have no rules, right?" said Captain McBain. "They clearly don’t obey the traffic article of the state of Maryland. They are somewhat lawless, and we have a ton of rules. For good reasons though. And we work in the confines of these rules and, ultimately, what I ask of my officers is to prevent personal injury and property damage. And we did that. Now is that the best-case scenario? No. But it’s something that, you know, I’m proud of my officers to at least get it in there, get it broken, and get it out of the county as soon as possible."
McBain told FOX 5 that due to the lack of insight beforehand, the gathering ended up growing to upwards of 200 people with only about four officers immediately on the scene.
McBain said it was not a safe environment for the officers to start arresting people.
He also told FOX 5 that police policy does not allow them to chase in situations like this. He explained there would need to be a more violent crime committed in connection with the gathering or if someone was struck at the event, police would immediately chase that vehicle.
"We’re just trying to make sure nobody gets hurt, and no property really gets damaged. So, we have a lot of work to do if we’re going to make a significant impact in these," McBain said. "If you look at the charges that we typically, like a racing event – they’re all punishable by fines. There’s nothing I can think of at the top of my head that is incarcerable, where they can go to jail, and I think that’s where Annapolis can help out."
McBain told FOX 5 that after police worked to safely disperse the group, a post-investigation is done where officers go through area surveillance and dash cam videos to identify the cars involved. However, to charge a driver, McBain says police need to place that driver at the scene of the incident, which is another challenge.
The 3D Commander also suggested state lawmakers allow police to seize these vehicles.
McBain said MCPD is in discussions with state and lawmakers to discuss whether the police chase policy needs to be updated or whether other measures like stop sticks can be used. However, that has already been proven to be a dangerous option as well.