LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Lawmakers Wednesday unveiled a joint effort to reduce hit-and-run crimes with an Amber Alert-style system to help authorities apprehend those who flee the scene of a traffic collision.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports City Councilman Mitch Englander and Assemblyman Mike Gatto led the charge, along with police and community activists, to launch a statewide effort to crack down on a “hit-and-run epidemic.”
The rally at City Hall is the latest move by supporters of Assembly Bill 47, a bill authored by Gatto which proposes a California “yellow alert” system that would issue public announcements after a serious hit-and-run crash. Another Gatto bill, AB 1532, would stiffen penalties for offenders, including revoking driver’s licenses.
“The truth is, hit-and-runs are a symptom of inhumanity,” said Damian Kevitt, a bicyclist who was struck by a hit-and-run driver and dragged a quarter-mile through Griffith Park. “It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to say if you hit someone, whether it was your fault or not, you need to stop the car.”
The driver still hasn’t been found.
An estimated 20,000 hit-and-runs are reported in L.A. every year, and less than 20 percent of the offenders are caught.
“Now, most people are like us: most people believe that one of the worst things that a human can do to another human is to leave somebody on the side of the road to die,” Gatto said. “And it’s time for our laws to reflect our values.”
“We need help and we can’t do this on our own,” Englander said. “We can’t do this without the help of the public. We can’t do it without the help of the state of California.”
Englander hopes that under the new system, officials will be able to get the word out quickly when a driver speeds away from the scene of an accident.
“We have the opportunity locally to go to CHP and ask them to put out like an Amber Alert, a yellow alert, in that hit-and-run area,” Englander said.
In May, the City Council adopted a resolution urging state lawmakers to set up an alert system that would broadcast descriptions of vehicles driven by people who flee the scene of traffic collisions.
Denver enacted a similar system in 2012 called the Medina Alert, which officials say has helped them solve 13 cases of 17 total alerts issued.