Tow Truck Shooter Arrested, Cops Block Wreckers From Accident Info
Are Philly’s tow truck wars already over?
An alleged gun-man in this week’s towing blow-up has been arrested, and the police have changed the rules to prevent future problems, no longer broadcasting accident information over radios that wreckers can listen in on.
Jose LaTorre, Jr., wanted for Monday’s shooting of Mystical Towing driver Angel Carrera, turned himself into police last night. The shooting allegedly was the result of a dispute between LaTorre and Carrera over a potential customer after an accident on Hunting Park Avenue.
“LaTorre told him he couldn’t talk to his customer,” Mystical owner John Campbell said of the employee who was shot. “He told (LaTorre), `Well, I don’t see no tow truck there.”‘
LaTorre had been on the run ever since. The suspect’s father, Jose LaTorre Sr.,the owner of J & Sons Towing, did not return several messages left at the family business.
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Campbell, 35, said he has talked by phone to LaTorre Jr. and encouraged him to surrender so they can put the feud behind them. “None of this is good for business,” he said.
In response to the violence, police say they will now transmit minor accident information over laptops instead of their radios so the wreckers won’t get the drop on them. It’s not a perfect solution, says the Inky:
Police radio is generally more effective because officers who hear the calls and are near an accident sometimes arrive sooner than officers who receive a specific call for help.
“It’s a trade-off, and we are going to have to weigh certain factors,” [Deputy Commissioner Jack] Gaittens said. “We are not looking to replace police-radio transmissions and tie up the [computers].”
Before, the radio room would wait until a cop got to the scene and radio back in for a tow. Now, the dispatcher asks the caller if the vehicles are blocking a highway or sidewalk, if there is a safety concern and if a tow is needed. Then the dispatcher contacts the next tow company in the rotation and dispatches police officers, Gaittens said.
Councilman Jim Kenney has called for legislation to mandate that the dispatchers call the towing companies in advance, and also fines for wreckers who show up uninvited. It all sounds good, but Philadelphia has implemented tough towing laws before. Councilman Frank Rizzo got a “rotational towing” system passed two years ago in which police call tow trucks from a list to spread out the business, but the rule has been largely ignored, mostly because the tow trucks got to accidents before the police could.
Because the new rules block access to accident info, they are more likely to stick. But come on, aren’t tow truck wars more exciting than parking wars?