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Transportation on Patrol: The Neighborhood Watch on Wheels

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 communities.

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 criminals.”

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 their community.

Fleet owners and operators who want to get involved with Transportation on Patrol can reach out to the Taxicab Limousine & Paratransit Foundation at info@thetransportationalliance.org 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.

Posted 11/17/2017 4:52:10 PM