LAPD launches campaign aimed at reducing LA's hit-and-run crimes

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Police Department and its partners unveiled a new campaign aimed at reducing the number of hit-and-runs across Los Angeles.

The public service effort is focusing on L.A. after 27 people in the area were killed in 2014 alone and another 144 were injured. Of all cases, less than 20 percent of them have been solved.

As part of the campaign, 10 anti-hit-run billboards will be placed around the city to remind drivers that staying to aid a victim is crucial.

"When you leave somebody on the side of the road like a wounded animal, you are a coward, and you are a criminal," said Mitchell Englander of the LA City Council at the unveiling.

The campaign comes nearly a year after Pamela Kay Strong's 60-year-old brother was killed by a hit-and-run driver, but thanks to a witness's quick description, the killer was caught just a few blocks away.

Strong hopes the message reaches all drivers, like those who may find themselves in a position to say something when they see a crime occur.

"I am forever indebted to this witness," Strong said. "And cannot express my thanks enough."

For Belen Lugo's aunt who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in September, the killer remains on the loose.

"Believe me, it's the worst pain. It's horrible to know she had to go that way," Lugo said.

LAPD authorities identified the suspect as William Armando Portales.

"He has to pay," said Lugo. "He has to pay for what he's done."

The city has a standing reward of $50,000 to any witness of a fatal hit-and-run who offers enough information that can lead to an arrest.
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