Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters. Photo by John Schreiber.

Angelenos will be asked to keep on the look-out for hit-and-run drivers who flee the scene of car crashes under an alert program being rolled out by Los Angeles city officials next week.

The alerts — sent out over social media and the city’s existing alert systems — will contain information identifying hit-and-run drivers fleeing the scene of fatal and severe hit-and-run collisions.

The program is similar to Amber Alerts, which notify the public of an ongoing kidnapping, and is inspired by Medina Alerts, a Denver program also focused on hit-and-run crimes.

City Councilman Mitchell Englander, who proposed the program, will join his colleage Joe Buscaino to unveil further details about the program at a City Hall event on Tuesday.

All city departments will be asked to pitch in on the notifications, which could go out on the city’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as the Los Angeles Police Department’s Nixle and the Emergency Management Department’s Notify-LA text-messaging alert systems.

The council members said the alert system is aimed at curbing hit-and- run crimes in Los Angeles, which has reached epidemic-levels in Los Angeles, killing 27 and seriously injuring 144 people last year.

There are typically about 20,000 hit-and-runs each year, most of them minor, but drivers in Los Angeles are likelier to flee the scene, the council members said. Drivers flee the scene of nearly half of vehicle crashes in Los Angeles, compared with 11 percent nationally.

The council voted last week to support state legislation that would create a statewide alert system for hit-and-run crimes, but Englander said city officials have the ability to implement their own program immediately.

“There are city’s out there that are doing bits and pieces” of an alert program, “but we’ll be the first comprehensive program to attack this chronic plague” of hit-and-run crimes, Englander said last month, during a meeting of the Public Safety Committee.

Englander, who chairs the committee, asked that officials also send alerts to city bus drivers, taxi drivers, body shops and others more likely to come across hit-and-run drivers.

The City Council on Tuesday will also consider Buscaino and Englander’s proposal to set up a standing reward to help find, arrest and convict hit-and- run drivers. The automatic reward — similar to one that already exists for graffiti and vandalism crimes — could range between $1,000 for property damage all the way up to $50,000 if the hit-and-run is fatal.

City News Service

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