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Cab Drivers On Patrol Against Crime

January 2, 1989

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ For just $300, police have added 40 recruits to patrol the streets of this northern Kentucky city. They don’t make arrests, but they will drive people to jail - for a fee.

The recruits are the drivers of De-Luxe Yellow Cabs Inc., who have enlisted in a 2-week-old program to give police more eyes and ears in the streets.

″This is an excellent opportunity for us to take advantage of the fact that cab drivers operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the same streets that we patrol,″ said Sgt. Bill Dorsey, a police administrative supervisor.

Under the new program, Taxis On Patrol, cab drivers report suspicious activity to dispatchers over two-way radios. The dispatchers then notify police.

″You name it and we see it,″ said cab driver Bob Sterling. ″We stop fights, rapes and all of those things.″

Still, authorities say they don’t want cab drivers to stop crimes, just to tell police about them.

″We’re not asking them to do police work or to get involved,″ said city Commissioner Butch Callery. ″They’re strictly to call an event in and alert us to the situation.″

Callery proposed the taxi program after reading about similar efforts elsewhere. ″It’ll never take the place of more policemen, but it will assist us,″ the commissioner said.

The $300 start-up cost of the program covered a 2 1/2 -hour training program for drivers and the printing of decals affixed to the taxis.

Authorities in Nashville, Tenn., tried a similar system in 1983, but gave up after cab drivers lost interest, said Walter Lawhorn, an inspector for the Nashville-Davidson County Metropolitan Taxicab Board.

Assistant City Manager Gregory Jarvis said the Covington program hasn’t been in effect long enough to determine its impact. But, he said, ″It certainly can’t hurt.″

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