This week, a sharp-eyed taxi driver spotted an escaped murderer from Hawaii in
California. Her intervention led to his capture by the local sheriff’s
department. The driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, recognized the man from
a news broadcast and tipped off the authorities. This is the most recent
high-profile case of a taxi driver’s intervention leading police to capture a
criminal, but it is far from unique: Taxi drivers and operators around the
country and around the world have a long history of looking out for their
Take, for example, the taxicab fleets
participating in the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Foundation’s (TLPF) Transportation
on Patrol (TOP) initiative. Members of TLPF’s sister organization, the Taxicab,
Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA), these fleet are located all
over the world and they are working with their local authorities to keep their
communities safe. In particular, TLPA member Robert McBride of Metro
Transportation Planning and Solutions Group is the biggest booster of the TOP
program. His company’s version of the program, Taxis on Patrol, partners with
city, state and federal law enforcement agencies, primarily the Denver Police
Department, to keep the community safe.
“Safety First, with Courtesy a Close Second”
is Metro Transportation’s slogan, and the TOP program is a key part of that.
“Our drivers are an extra set of eyes and ears,
reporting incidents, crimes or potential dangers directly to the police
department as they happen,” McBride said. “We are proud to say that this
program alone has assisted our brave law enforcement officials by reporting and
preventing thousands of incidents and criminal acts, and in the apprehension of
That is very nearly an understatement: Since
its inception in January 2011, Metro Transportation’s TOP has proven to be a
resounding and quantifiable success. Drivers in the program have reported more
than 10,000 incidents, helped stop a child-trafficking ring and provided
information that led to an arrest after a fatal hit-and-run accident. The
hit-and-run was only a day after the program was instituted in Denver.
The drivers who volunteer for the program
receive special training and are able to tune into police emergency bulletins.
Bulletins are also broadcasted in the dispatch center, which has a special log
of all criminal activity reported by drivers.
For the drivers, it’s all part of the job.
Their taxis carry brightly colored TOP stickers, but they get no extra compensation
for this effort. A police officer described the project as a “neighborhood
watch on wheels.” For McBride and his drivers, it’s a matter of caring for
Fleet owners and operators who want to get
involved with Transportation on Patrol can reach out to the Taxicab Limousine
& Paratransit Foundation at email@example.com
for details on the TOP program. On an individual level, we can all play a part
by keeping our eyes and ears open and alerting our local law enforcement to any
suspicious activity we encounter.