Crime & Justice

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck: 'This is the year of traffic' enforcement

LAPD Officers William Allen, left, and Guillermo Espinoza on patrol in Skid Row.
LAPD Officers William Allen, left, and Guillermo Espinoza on patrol in Skid Row.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Expect more focus on traffic safety and enforcement from Los Angeles police officers.

“This year the department is going to concentrate greater than ever on traffic,” police chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, Beck said his operations chief declared it: “the year of traffic.”

Related: A Face of Hit-and-Run Victims

“We’ve done such a remarkable job on crime, particularly violent crime, that we want to make sure we are providing total service,” Beck told the police commission.

L.A. Police Commission president Steve Soboroff asked the chief at the Feb. 18 meeting about ways to cut back on the number of hit and runs.

“It seems like nobody when they hit something stops and…takes responsibility for what they’ve done,” Soboroff said.

L.A. Weekly has done extensive coverage on hit-and-runs in Los Angeles:

"There is no LAPD task force or organized city effort to address the problem, yet the numbers are mind-boggling. About 20,000 hit-and-run crashes, from fender benders to multiple fatalities, are recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department each year."

State lawmakers have tried to address the issue by increasing penalties for the people who leave the scene of a crash. The L.A. City Council could consider an ordinance that would offer cash rewards to people who come forward to police with information about specific hit-and-run cases.

Beck said Tuesday he thinks a combination of new laws, stiffer penalties, and increased awareness will lead drivers to take greater responsibility for their actions.

“If you just think that it’s a police issue, just like gangs – like we did for years with gangs – you will never find the true solution,” the chief said.

More than 100 resources have been moved into the police department’s four traffic divisions, Beck said. He has also added traffic statistics to his regular crime reports to the police commission. Here are a few highlights:

The police department is expected to report back to the L.A. Police Commission on its efforts to focus on traffic safety.