Home / US / Public Safety App Labels Man Suspected in Palisades Fire

Public Safety App Labels Man Suspected in Palisades Fire

It is the Wild West’s “wanted” poster of modern times.

A picture of a young man was sent in Citizen’s personal safety app to users in a Los Angeles pool after a brush fire on Friday night and growing rapidly. The post identified the man as an arson suspect and offered a $ 30,000 reward for information leading to an arrest related to the Pacific Palisades fire.

Within hours, millions of app users saw the image, and tips were sent to authorities.

But there was one problem: The man was not the person identified by LAPD observers in the helicopter as it saw multiple fires that eventually spread to over 1

,300 acres between Pacific Palisades and Topanga Canyon.

When Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies contacted the man in the picture identified as Devin Hilton late on Saturday, investigators quickly dispelled him as a suspect in connection with the matter. With increasing flame Several law enforcement sources told The Times that LAPD observers in a helicopter said the Hilton inspector was not the one he saw on the ground Friday night when the flames ignited.

Citizen, accused of sparking a wakefulness in New York by urging users to take pictures of ongoing crimes, post photos of men received from private sources and offer cash rewards for information that Leading to his arrest

The company said on Sunday it had made a mistake in posting a picture of the man.

“We post the image publicly and offer a cash reward for information without formal coordination with the relevant authorities. When we became aware of this error, we immediately retracted the pictures and reward offers. We are working on improving our internal processes to ensure that this does not happen again. This is a mistake that we are taking very seriously, ”the company said.

Citizen did not specify the source of the posted images, and said it was only from the company’s publisher, which collects information such as police scanners talks and alerts before sending the notification to. Users within one radius of the incident said they had not confirmed any official information with Los Angeles officials.

In a briefing on Monday, Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said the real suspect was arrested at 2:30 p.m. Sunday after the authorities were arrested. Investigations identified multiple origins of the fire.

LAPD officials on Monday said the suspect was Ramon Santos Rodriguez, 48, who was arrested for arson. He was bailed for more than $ 100,000.

Activists have long been concerned that data-driven applications such as Citizen that provide short descriptions of suspects could highlight minorities as a source of crime and lead to racial information gathering. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lt. James Braden told Spectrum News the Citizen’s move could have potentially detrimental effects on a man who was misidentified.

Citizen evolved during the COVID-19 epidemic, and city and county officials encouraged residents to download it as the official Los Angeles app for contact tracking, making it popular. The Citizen first appeared on the set in LA in the spring of 2019.

“We provide real-time situational awareness,” said Andrew Frame, Citizen Founder and Chief Executive Officer, in an interview with The Times. When people know what the police are doing, it builds their trust. ”

After the arson error, Citizen added in a statement on Monday: “Ultimately, the safety of our users is always our top priority. As a result, we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We have developed a range of guidelines that have been received by seasoned experts in media and law enforcement. We take great care to distinguish events and describe them accurately and objectively. Additionally, all user-generated content is reviewed by a team of highly trained moderators 24/7. ”

Citizen has received much criticism on Twitter for making inappropriate accusations of the man.

“OK, I turned my back on the Citizen app,” comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted. “The host offered a $ 30K reward for ambiguous evidence of the homeless man they thought was the start. #Palisadesfire Now, someone is trying to hunt him down. There is no proof that this man was much less arson initially. “

In a briefing, Terrazas said, “The people in detention feel that we have the right people.”

Asked if the suspect was homeless, Terrazas replied, “I don’t know.”

After LAPD observers in a helicopter detected a suspect set on fire on Friday, investigators could not find the man on the ground due to thick smoke and brush, according to law enforcement and the authorities. fire

The fires remained at 1,325 acres on Monday and at 23 percent in quarantine.

“We expect cool temperatures and good overnight humidity,” tweeted the National Weather Service in Los Angeles.

More than 500 officials are fighting the fire, according to Terrazas, with no deaths or houses missing. One firefighter was slightly injured.

The blaze lit up around 10pm Friday during the 1800s of North Michael Lane in a remote part of the Pacific Palisades, just a few steps from the canyon trailer walkway, LAFD officials said. Access to fires spread over 15 acres overnight. Fire helicopters swarm the area, slowing the water down.

The first fire reported through “The data from the LAPD helicopter saw something from the sky,” Terrazas said. With multiple start points, the chief remarked, doubts about the arson escalated.

At about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, another fire broke out north of the original fire, the LA Fire Service reported, exploding to 750 acres in the night. The flames were concentrated amid the lack of rain, officials said. Firefighters swarmed over canyons in the Pacific Palisades to fight the flames. But most of the containment measures come from helicopters.

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