A legislator has proposed a bill in Sacramento that would create a statewide “Yellow Alert” system to help apprehend hit-and-run drivers.
AB 47, introduced Friday by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), seeks to allow California law-enforcement agencies to use the existing Emergency Alert System to notify the public of descriptions of vehicles suspected of being involved in hit-and-run collisions. Amber Alerts, which broadcast information in child-abduction cases, are part of the EAS.
“These are crimes which, by their nature, occur at a high rate of speed and with clear means for fleeing the scene,” Gatto said. “The public is almost always needed to catch those who leave fellow citizens dying on the side of the road, and AB 47 will allow us to do so promptly, before the perpetrator can get away and cover up the evidence.”
Nationwide, less than half of all hit-and run offenders are caught, according to the assemblyman’s website. In Los Angeles, the arrest rate for fatal hit-and-runs is 20 percent.
“When Denver implemented a system like this [in 2012], they went up to a 75-percent catch rate for people who kill someone with a hit-and-run,” Gatto said.
That system, known as a “Medina Alert,” is named for 21-year-old Jose Medina, who in 2011 was fatally struck by a driver who fled the scene, The Denver Post reported. On March 25, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation that expanded the program statewide, making Colorado the first state to do so.