In an effort to reduce the staggering number of hit-and-runs in Los Angeles, city officials joined forces Tuesday with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Transportation to announce a city-wide alert system.
"The city of Los Angeles unfortunately has become known as the hit and run capital of the US," said Damian Kevitt, who lost a leg when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver two years ago.
"When I was hit on the freeway on the streets of Griffith Park and dragged nearly a quarter of a mile underneath the car, I didn't know my life would change so drastically," Kevitt said. "All I knew was I wanted to live."
Councilmen Joe Busciano and Mitchell Englander hope to reduce the epidemic of hit-and-runs in LA with the implementation of a mass notification system that would use social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and Nixle to alert residents.
"If we have year, make, model, description of damage to vehicle, the driver perhaps," Englander said. "If we have that information, then it will go out geographically by division."
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Englander said they have reached out not only to Google and Waze, but also to any company with a dispatch system, including Uber, sanitation services, bus drivers, and metro and taxi drivers.
Nearly 21,000 hit-and-runs resulted in 27 deaths and 144 severe injuries in LA during 2014, according to LAPD records. With nearly 50 percent of crashes classified as hit-and-runs in the city, LA soars over the national average of 11 percent.
There's also an effort to create an alert system statewide, called a Yellow Alert. It would work like the current Amber Alert system, using electronic billboards and text messages to alert the public to hit-and-run drivers.
It's modeled after a program in Colorado called the Medina alert, which has been successful — 76 percent of the hit-and-runs that were displayed on the billboards were solved.
"Anything to catch these criminals that are leaving people on the side of the road, that is what we are going to do," said Stephanie Saporito, a spokeswoman for Englander.
Additionally, Busciano and Englander will also ask the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that would offer a standing reward for the apprehension and conviction of hit-and-run drivers.