Assm. Patterson wants to bring back 'Yellow Alert' to track down hit-and-run drivers

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Saturday, February 12, 2022
Assemblymember Patterson wants to bring back 'Yellow Alert'
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Assemblymember Jim Patterson is pushing to give officers another tool to help track down drivers who leave the scene.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Amid several devastating hit and run crashes, Assemblymember Jim Patterson is pushing to give officers another tool to help track down drivers who leave the scene.

He's introduced legislation to bring back the Yellow Alert.

Like an Amber Alert, it would give the California Highway Patrol the opportunity to broadcast the license plate number, or make and model of a vehicle, involved in a hit and run crash.

RELATED: Fresno Police say hit-and-run crashes currently set to outpace last year's totals

A supporter of the bill is Dawn Elliott whose mother, Deborah Ann Geneau, 65, was killed in a four-vehicle crash on Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield.

"I'll never forget that phone call," said Elliott.

The woman who triggered the crash drove away.

It took nine months until investigators were able to track her down and arrest her.

Elliott says life changed the day her mother was killed.

"She made a big dinner every night, sat down at the dinner table and everyone had dinner together and those days are gone," said Elliott.

Elliott says she's watched her father, Rick, struggle to move forward. He and Deborah had been together since they were 14.

Since the crash, Elliott launched Helping Hit And Run Tragedies (Helping HART), to aid other victims of hit and run crashes.

Through her research, she found out about the Yellow Alert which, was first implemented in 2016.

It's similar to an AMBER ALERT and allows the California Highway Patrol to broadcast on signs and cell phones the license plate and make and model of a vehicle suspected in a hit and run crash that cause great bodily injury or death.

But that law expired in 2019, and no one thought to renew it.

"I feel like the yellow alert, I feel like it's possibly going to really make a difference and a big impact on the overall number that we have," Elliott said.

Assemblymember Patterson, who has advocated for stricter laws related to hit and run crashes, met with Elliott and agreed to introduce legislation to bring the Yellow Alert back.

"I think it's a good effort to use a technology that has been successful in other ways," Patterson said.

He says hit and run crashes are happening far too often and he wants to ensure officers have every opportunity to track down the drivers who leave.

"I hope that that will be not only a deterrent, but it will also be a tool for capturing and getting those people off the street," said Patterson.

The Yellow Alert bill was introduced to the State Assembly about two weeks ago.

It has now been recommended to the Public Safety and Transportation Committee and is expected to be heard in the coming months.