Los Angeles police are drafting plans for a proposed program that would offer Angelenos rewards of up to $50,000 for information that helps arrest and convict hit-and-run drivers.
Los Angeles has "the distinction of being the hit-and-run capital of the country," City Councilman Joe Buscaino said at a meeting of the Public Safety Committee on Friday morning. Offering a reward would increase the incentive for witnesses to come forward, ultimately "bringing these cowards to justice."
Last year, Los Angeles had more than 21,000 hit-and-run crimes, including more than 1,200 injuries and 41 deaths, L.A. Police Cmdr. Blake Chow told the committee.
Under the proposal floated by Buscaino, police would offer standing rewards of up to $1,000 for information that helped arrest and convict hit-and-run drivers who caused property damage, up to $25,000 in cases that caused injury, and up to $50,000 in hit-and-run deaths.
The total cost would depend on how many people came forward and in what kinds of cases, Chow said. For example, if Angelenos came forward with information that helped arrest and convict every driver involved in a hit-and-run death last year, the city would pay out roughly $2 million, he calculated.
Chow suggested testing out how such rewards would work through a pilot program, likely in a part of Los Angeles where hit-and-runs are especially frequent.
The Public Safety Committee asked the Los Angeles Police Department and the city attorney to come back to them in roughly two months with detailed plans for piloting the program, including how rewards would be paid. Los Angeles police already offer standing rewards for people who report graffiti or illegal dumping.