Penetrating the Myth of L.A.’s Safety

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At City Watch and his personal blog Soap Box, Stephen Box punched an SUV sized hole in the Mayor and Police Chief Charlie Beck’s claim that the City of Los Angeles has become the “second safest big city in America, after New York.”  Box’s contention is that because the city assumes that most traffic crashes are “accidents” even when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, that the city can keep its official statistics low and avoid having to spend resources to keep the city safe.

As long as we refer to the mayhem on the streets as “accidents” Villaraigosa will be allowed to continue the charade but the reality is this, the streets of Los Angeles are a Public Safety nightmare and the people of LA stand a greater chance of being killed by a motorist than by a gangbanger.

Police Officers stand a greater change of dying in a car crash than in a fight with a criminal.

As LA celebrates its “2nd safest Big City” status, it’s important to acknowledge that Los Angeles is also a national leader in hit-and-run crimes.

Los Angeles is a City under Hit and Run Seige. The Mayor needs to get out of the Yukon and onto a Schwinn if he wants to truly impress on the people of Los Angeles that we are a city that puts a premium on Public Safety. Public Safety that is for everyone including LA’s growing cyclist community.

Powerful stuff, but outside of his typically robust verbiage, Box breaks down the multiple errors made in the handling of the “Cayenne v Cyclist” crash that left an East Hollywood activist hospitalized and a hit and run Porsche driver back on the street.  You can read a summary of the LAPD’s five sins or head over to Soap Box to read Box’s article in full and have a chance to comment.

  1. Even though she drove off after hitting Magos, the LAPD let the driver go after she filled out some paperwork in a police station.  Magos’ family was still figuring out which hospital he lay in while the driver, and her car, were back on the street.  And, she waited an hour to turn herself in.
  2. The LAPD didn’t collect evidence.  The bike was left on the side of the road and is now in Magos’ garage.  The driver zipped away in her car after filling out some forms at the Wilshire Division.
  3. Within an hour of the crash, without talking to the officers or examining the evidence, the Watch Commander referred to the crash as a “traffic accident.”
  4. Despite hitting, hospitalizing and running, the driver is only accused of a misdemeanor, the same level of penalty one would receive for shoplifting a candy bar.
  5. For the last goof, I’ll just quote Box completely because of this blog’s role in the error.  :

The “hit-and-run” incident took place last week. Since then the LAPD investigators prepared a file and it was vetted and a press release went out. It contained misinformation. It was then lost and the LAPD’s media department was unable to retrieve the information for the press.

In light of the fact that the cycling community was Tweeting the motorist’s license plate info within minutes of the collision and that the local blogs were humming within the hour of the incident, how does the LAPD take a week to fumble with the report and then lose the press release?

It’s 2010 and it’s time for the LAPD to put down the pencil and paper and to embrace the digital era.

(editor’s note – I get asked all the time why when an  article appears on City Watch and a personal blog I link more heavily to the blog.  It’s just because blogs usually have a discussion in the comments section and City Watch doesn’t allow comments.  I have nothing against City Watch.  They do a great job. – DN)

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