NYPD and Federation of Taxi drivers outline strategies to improve driver safety

News Desk

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enior officers of the NYPD Police Department's Robbery Squadron and some of the main leaders of the Taxi Federation - José Viloria, advisor, Fernando Mateo, spokesman and José Hernández,  general secretary, recently met with the inspector of the commanders' office Brian S. McGee and Detective Sergeant Kevin H. Prentice of the Central Division of Robbery to chart new strategies in protecting taxi drivers from robberies and other crimes and expediting the capture of criminals.

At the meeting, held at the federation's offices on Webster Avenue in the Bronx, federated leaders discussed the industry's concerns regarding the robbery waves of taxi drivers, and emphasized that in less than 24 hours, in late August, three drivers were assaulted in that county.

Mateo explained that at the meeting with senior NYPD officers, the federation explained the need for all drivers to have a camera in their taxis.

"Also make sure that if they rent a car, they deliver it responsibly and with the camera to the next driver," Mateo said.

He said the meeting was motivated by the capture of a robber who stole 11 taxi drivers in less than a month.

Five of the taxi drivers were robbed at Mount Vernon and the others at The Bronx and Yonkers.

"Of the 11 taxis, only two had security cameras, thanks to which the police were able to capture the offender," Mateo said.

"They were very specific in making sure the police are not looking to fine or intimidate anyone. The detectives want to solve the crimes and ensure that the criminals are not on the streets robbing and even murdering the drivers, "added Mateo.

As part of the strategy, police pledged to publish a column on NY TAXI VOICE and participate in the radio program, with messages to the industry, regarding security measures and alerts.

"The police have the desire to ally ourselves, recognizing that our technology is very advanced and that can help them solve a crime that is committed in the city," said the federation spokesman.

Officials also apologized for not notifying the federation in a timely manner that the captive had already robbed several taxi drivers and waited for the number of thefts to increase.

"They told us that they are working on a team looking for serial robbers," added Mateo.

Viloria, called the meeting very fruitful, saying it was helpful in ensuring the safety of taxi drivers and the capture of criminals.

"A channel was opened between the NYPD and the federation to work on the protection of drivers. It's very important because I have not seen a meeting for a long time in which the police show that it is willing to work with organizations that defend the interests of taxi drivers, "Viloria said.

The squadron has satellite offices in different sectors of the city and both commanders also pledged to send the federation photos of the robbers who are wanted.

Hernandez said the meeting was very positive, demonstrating the desire to work with the federation for the safety of taxi drivers.