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L.A. Considers $50,000 Rewards To Nab Hit-And-Run Suspects
Since L.A. is first place in the nation for having staggering numbers of hit-and-run cases, it's about time the city is doing something about it. The LAPD and city attorney are putting together a proposal plan in the next couple of months to offer witnesses rewards of up to $50,000 to catch the offenders.
In a Public Safety Committee meeting today, city officials discussed a pilot program that would reward witnesses $1,000 for info on collisions that result in in property damage, $25,000 for those who cause bodily injury and $50,000 for crashes that result in death, according to City News Service. The LAPD and city attorney will have about 60 days to come up with details of the pilot program proposal and give it to the Public Safety Committee.
"As we know, unfortunately, we have the distinction of being the hit-and-run capital of the country," City Councilman Joe Buscaino said in the meeting. "We want to change the culture of how hit-and-run crimes are handled here in Los Angeles."
Just yesterday, a man was fatally struck by not one, but two hit-and-run drivers in Silver Lake. This is just one of the many cases of fleeing suspects who have left victims injured (and even dead) on the road. In a Public Safety Committee meeting today, Los Angeles police Commander Blake Chow said there were 21,000 hit-and-run cases in 2013 with 41 deaths and more than 1,200 injuries, reported the L.A. Times. Also, just to give some perspective of our figures compared to other U.S. cities, KCRW reported in Jan. 2013 that nearly 48 percent of all of our crashes are hit-and-runs, while the nation averages at 11 percent.
Detective Felix Padilla of the LAPD Traffic Division told 20/20 that he thought undocumented immigrants afraid of a run-in with the law were one of the main reasons for our hit-and-run crisis. But the 2012 LA Weekly story that drew the city's attention to the crisis points out that shoddy police work might be part of the problem. When investigating the high-profile case of Marie Hardwick who was struck outside LACMA, police never interviewed the victim, didn't pick up a side view mirror that fell off the suspect's car and brushed off witness descriptions of the suspect's car. The case, like so many others, remains unsolved.
Buscaino hopes the rewards will encourage witnesses to come forward and bring "these cowards to justice."