Penetrating the Myth of L.A.’s Safety


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)

  • e.n

    there is a very disturbing culture within the LAPD that accepts hit-and-run accidents as a way of life in our city. the police do not investigate them even when victims are seriously injured and we are expected to accept this because we accepted the risk by riding a bike.

    i can’t see this changing without a court order or a public relations nightmare.

  • This attitude from law enforcement is reflective of the overall political culture in L.A. There are a lot of small businesses closing in and around my neighborhood. We’ll see how high and mighty car owners are once less people can afford to drive.

  • Pete Kaplana

    Just remember the motto of the L.A.P.D. has been “To Protect And To Serve” themselves since 1963.

  • Roadblock

    Is there an official stat on LA’s Hit and Run epidemic? Feels like it’s out of control.

  • Roadblock

    Are there an official stats on LA’s Hit and Run epidemic? Feels like this thing is out of control. Would also like to compare hit and run stats to drunk driving violations. MADD claims a reduction in drunk driving violations over the course of their campaign. Would be curious if hit and runs are inversely proprtional as the drunk driving laws got stiffer.

  • I think hit and runs have more to do with people who have warrants for their arrest or the vehicle is currently transporting something they should not be transporting. Don’t stop, don’t get caught.

    If that is true, it would be amazing to me that people would not ride public transportation because of “sketchy” passengers. I can’t imagine all the sketchy people driving on the freeway.


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