The City Council voted unanimously today to back or sponsor state legislation that would generate alerts when serious or fatal hit- and-run crashes occur -- mirroring the Amber Alert system for child abductions.
The council adopted a resolution urging state lawmakers to set up a system to issue alerts with descriptions of vehicles driven by people who fled the scene of traffic collisions.
More than 100 fatal or severe hit-and-run crashes occur each year in Los Angeles, based on statistics since 2007, according to Councilman Mitch Englander, the resolution's author.
"It's too many. One is too many," he said. "We will no longer tolerate these heinous crimes, these cowardly acts."
Councilman Paul Krekorian called Los Angeles a "hit-and-run capital" and said, "We need help from Sacramento to help resolve this."
As with Amber Alerts, information about suspected vehicles would be shown on highway signs and disseminated to the media and public soon after hit- and-runs occurs.
No state legislation has been proposed to create such an alert system. The resolution gives the city the option of supporting future bills that are introduced, Englander said.
According to Englander's resolution, the alert system should be modeled after ones adopted in two Colorado cities, known as Medina Alerts.
City legislative analysts said 17 alerts have been sent out since the alert system -- named after Jose Medina, a hit-and-run victim -- was enacted in Denver in 2012, with the alerts leading to 13 cases being solved.
Alerts in Denver are also sent to taxi drivers and others who drive for a living, analysts said.
Englander said the Los Angeles Police Department will also look into using existing technology, such the cell phone texting and email alert system Nixle, and study the feasibility of adopting a Medina Alert System in Los Angeles.
--City News Service