“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.” – Sgt. Joe Friday.
Sgt. Joe Friday (badge #714) of Dragnet’s Los Angeles Police Department got it about right when he likened a hit & run driver to a simple homicidal criminal in The Big Hit and Run (aired March 18, 1954). Friday inveighed against that scourge of cyclists everywhere: the driver who dares not take responsibility. In that episode, the driver of a panel truck fled after killing a woman and her son, leaving it up to the cops to sort out.
And sort it out they did: the perp had wanted to let his buddy, the guy from the cafe who let him the truck, take the fall for his crime, but Friday wasn’t falling for it. He nailed the guy with the shifty eyes and shifting alibi.
When it comes to hitting and running, Friday said, “there can be very little difference between a crime of neglect and a crime that has been willfully premeditated.” Amen to that!