L.A. Launches Social Media Alerts for Wanted Hit-&-Run Suspects

L.A. Launches Social Media Alerts for Wanted Hit-&-Run Suspects
Office of Assemblyman Mike Gatto

If you're ready for your inbox to be filled with alerts about hit-and-run douchebags on-the-run, you're in luck.

Los Angeles city councilmen Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino yesterday announced a citywide alert system that will use "Nixle, Twitter and Facebook to broadcast to localized communities in the event of a fatal hit and run incident," according to a statement from Englander's office:

Los Angeles and its surrounding communities are in the grips of a hit-and-run epidemic. The LAPD records approximately 20,000 hit-and-runs each year. Nearly half of all vehicle crashes in the City of Los Angeles are hit-and-runs, compared with the national average of 11 percent. Last year, there were 27 fatalities and 144 severe injuries due to hit-and-run crimes.

"When somebody hits somebody on the side of a road and leaves them there to die ... it's inhumane, and it's a crime," Englander said.

Yep. It's a matter first brought to the public's attention by L.A. Weekly in 2012. Our coverage inspired Los Angeles state Assemblyman Mike Gatto to propose a statewide, Amber Alert-like system that would beam the license plate numbers of suspected hit-and-run drivers on digital freeway and street signs near the scenes of such crimes.

Strangely, Gatto's effort last year was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown after it received bipartisan support in both houses of the state legislature. The assemblyman is back, however, with reintroduced legislation, AB 8, to get this done.

Gatto's office explained in a statement how his proposed alerts would work:

AB 8 would allow law-enforcement agencies to use the existing Emergency Alert System (aka the “Amber Alert” system) to broadcast information about vehicles suspected in hit-and-run incidents and enlist the help of drivers to report those suspects right away. Use of the system would be limited to hit-and-runs that result in death or serious bodily injury. Alerts would issue only when there is a sufficient description of the offending vehicle. 

Gatto:

I’m happy that colleagues in Los Angeles have decided to follow my lead on this important issue. Hit-and-run victims and their families deserve to know that cowards who drive recklessly and purposefully avoid responsibility, will be caught, and will no longer be allowed to drive the streets.

With reporting from City News Service. Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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