Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

What a Difference 60 Years Makes: Dragnet’s Hunt for a Hit-and-Run Killer

We have to thank Network blog Copenhagenize for pointing us to this video, from a 1954 episode of the classic detective series Dragnet. In this installment, Los Angeles Police Detective Joe Friday and his team investigate a hit-and-run collision that killed a woman crossing the street with her grandson.

Apparently the attitude toward traffic deaths among law enforcement officials has changed quite a bit since 1954, notes Copenhagenize’s Mikael Colville-Andersen:

As Sergeant Joe Friday puts it [6 minutes, 18 seconds in]: "How much difference, for example, as far as moral guilt is concerned, is there between the following: #1 the man who plans a killing, takes up a gun, finds his victim and shoots him to death. And #2 the man who thinks he has to look out for no one’s welfare but his own, gets behind the wheel of a car, disregards the ordinary rules of safety and proceeds to commit homicide with a motor vehicle. Often times the crime masquerades under the guise of an accident. Morally, no matter how you spell it, it adds up to murder just as surely as if the person had taken a gun and shot his victim down."

Imagine. Look at how much air time was given to a hit & run. Things have certainly changed. Maybe lucrative car commercials ended up weeding out bad branding like this storyline.

Contrast that with modern-day New York City, where the family members of hit-and-run victims have to sue the police department for failing to investigate a very similar crime. Where's Joe Friday when you need him?

Elsewhere on the Network today: Economics of Place discusses the value of placemaking initiatives in cities like Detroit, where basic infrastructure may be in a state of complete disrepair. Urban Review STL considers the proper alignment for the St. Louis streetcar. And Human Transit says that when Apple and Google fight, map users lose.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Delivery Worker Minimum Wage Shows Promise … For Some, Data Shows

New data from New York City's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection shows minimum wage is bringing order to a previously wild industry.

July 15, 2024

Monday’s Headlines Go Through Basic Training

An NYU study looks into why the U.S. is lagging behind on high-speed rail, and one transportation expert ponders the impact on growth.

July 15, 2024

Sustainable Transportation Advocates Need to Talk About Sustainable Urban Design

A new book hopes to act as a "magic decoder ring" to our built environment — and a powerful tool to understand how sustainable transportation networks can fit within them.

July 15, 2024

Long Beach Leads in Traffic Circles

Traffic circles aren't quite ubiquitous in Long Beach, but they're around. Riding and walking through the city one encounters circles in neighborhoods rich and poor, new and old.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines Take Me to the River

Politico reports that the Biden administration is investing $2.5 billion in updating aging Mississippi River locks and dams like this one in Iowa. Transporting freight by barge produces less emissions than trucks or even rail.

July 12, 2024
See all posts