Should California Implement Yellow Alerts for Hit-and-Runs?

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SACRAMENTO-

Right now, if you shoot or stab someone to death in California, there's a 60 percent chance you'll be brought to justice.

If you run them over with your car, that chance for justice drops to just 20 percent.

One state lawmaker's pushed a plan to change that, because he says those kind of numbers are just unacceptable.

CHP officers faced the reality behind those stats in Sacramento on Wednesday.

Investigators hoped video captured by Regional Transit bus cameras would help them track the killer car that mowed a man down on Marconi Avenue, but the angle was off.

Folks in the area who knew the man, known as Steve, can't believe someone would end his life this way.

"He never bothered anyone ... this is sad," Raymond Miller said.

Now requests are in that may deliver justice for that sadness -- requests for images from newly placed county road cameras in the area.

But a bill just passed out of the state Assembly that would give CHP officers another set of eyes to count on when they need to solve situations like this -- yours.

"Just leaving someone to die on the side of the road is so callous. It's a fundamental disrespect for human life," Assemblyman Mike Gatto said.

That's why the Democrat from Glendale has sponsored AB 8.

It would take advantage of the state's existing highway network of electronic message boards and display the details of a hit-and-run in a narrow area to try to catch a suspect that's killed or caused great bodily injury.

"This isn't going to buzz cell phones and not go statewide ... only be in the narrow area where the accident occurred," Gatto said.

And it would only be triggered if a complete license plate number of the suspect vehicle, a partial plate and a car make, or the identity of the suspect is available.

While the bill's designed to help the CHP solve something like what happened on Marconi, the California Highway Patrol's the only registered opposition to it -- with Commissioner Joseph Farrow signing off on a letter sent to Gatto's office.

In it Farrow lists concerns about overwhelming a sign system already being used for AMBER and Silver alerts.

It's a move he says could desensitize the public to the message boards.

He also suggests the possible hit-and-run or "yellow alert" may not be necessary since it's anticipated that such crashes will decrease since so many of California's undocumented and formerly unlicensed drivers can now drive legally through AB 60.

Farrow's letter goes on to question a lack of a priority system for the signs if  AMBER, Silver, and Yellow alert situations were all happening at the same time.

Gatto said the only priority should be doing whatever it takes to punish reckless behavior out on the roads.

"In Denver, they tried something like this and had their apprehension rate go up from 20 percent to 76 percent in just one year," he said.

A CHP spokesperson would not comment on camera about pending legislation.

According to Gatto's office, the Yellow Alerts would have such a narrow focus the system wouldn't be overwhelmed and that no priority system exists between current alerts so a new one wouldn't cause a new problem.

Representatives there also tell FOX40 there's no data to suggest drivers now holding licenses thanks to AB 60 have been the cause of most of the state's hit-and-runs.

Now out of the house, AB 8 should land in the senate public safety committee by July.

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