A Los Angeles City Council committee started the process on Friday for offering standing rewards of up to $50,000 to increase the chances of capturing and convicting drivers who flee traffic collision scenes.
The Public Safety Committee directed the police department to report back in 60 days on the details and costs of setting up a year-long pilot program to be carried out somewhere in the city.
The pilot reward program would offer a $1,000 reward for collisions that result in property damage, $25,000 for those that cause bodily injury and $50,000 for crashes that result in death.
Ongoing rewards are in place for crimes such as vandalism and illegal dumping, but rewards for hit-and-run crimes are now only offered on a case-by-case basis.
City Councilman Joe Buscaino introduced a motion in September calling for the standing rewards, which he said could spur more witnesses to come forward with information about drivers who commit hit-and-run crimes.
"As we know, unfortunately, we have the distinction of being the hit- and-run capital of the country," Buscaino said during the committee meeting today. "We want to change the culture of how hit-and-run crimes are handled here in Los Angeles," he said.
"More information is needed" to bring "these cowards to justice," he said.
Hit-and-run crimes in 2013 left 48 dead and thousands injured, police said.
Of the approximately 21,000 hit-and-run cases reported in Los Angeles last year, there were about 800 felony cases that included information about possible suspects, Los Angeles police Commander Blake Chow told the committee.
—City News Service