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Well, OK, so that's a slight exaggeration. But not as much as you might think. In Denver they're using a new program where taxi drivers are working as eyes and ears for the police

Why am I bummed about this? There are a couple of reasons. The first is the reason this is happening -- budget cuts. With state and city budgets cut to the bone and federal dollars not available to replace them cities can't simply hire more police.

And of course it's just another example of the growing police state mentality in America. The city wants to expand the program to package delivery drivers and even interstate truckers. What's next? Pizza delivery drivers?

And of course the perky, upbeat announcers on NPR were just so excited by this novel solution to the problem. Heaven forbid we actually raised taxes on some rich Kochsuckers to pay for basic city services. Oh no, that would be un-American. Having everyone and their dog spying on each other? That's the new America.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Taxi! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noddy, enhydra lutris, shann

    I want to report a break in on the corner of 5th and Maple.

    "What profit a man, if he gain the world, but has to pay taxes on it?" Paul 8:36

    From the Gospel of St. Ron Paul in the Teachings and Misunderstandings of the Words of Adam Smith

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:12:19 PM PST

  •  OTOH it makes practical sense. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahnity, G2geek

    Hacks and Food delivery drivers are concerned for their safety for good reason.

  •  this program would not be allowed in NYC... (0+ / 0-)

    the teabag outcry would be an embarrassment to the whole state.

    It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

    by Murphoney on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:57:59 PM PST

  •  neighborhood watch, on wheels. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SquirrelWhisperer

    This is basically like neighborhood watch, with drivers of vehicles that have radios onboard to connect to central dispatch systems where a dispatcher can call for help.

    This has been going on since the FCC approved dispatch mobile radio systems.  In the late 50s and early 60s, cities started encouraging their employees in radio-equipped vehicles to call in when they saw anything that looked like an emergency.

    One of the early instances involved road sweeper operators, because they are moving very slowly through commercial districts late at night and residential districts during the day, so they can see things that would escape notice by someone moving at regular traffic speeds.  And in the case of reporting a crime, they are "almost invisible" in the sense that people tend to not notice road sweepers, delivery vehicles, and suchlike.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 01:59:45 PM PST

    •  But as a replacement for police because of budget (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      cuts? Sorry, that's really not the right solution to the problem. In effect they're trying to "out source" the police to folks who aren't paid to do the job. Sure, if someone spots a crime they should call it in. I've got no trouble with that. It's the reliance on this as a substitute the police that bothers me. And if you read the article they're doing a lot more than just spotting break ins, or drunk drivers. How long before they get out of their cabs and start looking into windows because they see something supicious? Will that be going too far?

      "What profit a man, if he gain the world, but has to pay taxes on it?" Paul 8:36

      From the Gospel of St. Ron Paul in the Teachings and Misunderstandings of the Words of Adam Smith

      by ontheleftcoast on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:09:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That seems rather incompatible... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        ...with your second claim about the "police state mentality."

        If they paid enough cops (or set up cameras) to have the kind of eyeball coverage the city's cab fleet has, that would seem only to exacerbate your complaint about there being a "police state."

        I don't disagree that police budgets shouldn't be cut, and I also think there should be some kind of reward for cabbies who call in crimes or suspects where the perp is later caught and convicted, just like there are rewards for other private citizens. (For the record, I'm not seeing any indication that they aren't given rewards in this article.)

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:30:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  speaking of which... (0+ / 0-)

          I'd much rather have misc. city workers calling in suspicious stuff, than have cameras on streets.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 06:32:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I agree: no substitute for the police... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ontheleftcoast

        ... any more than neighborhood watch with shotguns is a substitute for the police.  But useful as supplementary eyes open for stuff.

        And no, none of the instances I'm aware of involve city workers getting out of their cabs and interacting with people much less looking in windows.  That would be going way beyond the whole idea and it wouldn't fly.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 06:31:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not really seeing this. (0+ / 0-)
    And of course it's just another example of the growing police state mentality in America.
    What in the article makes this part of the "police state mentality"?
    "They're in places at times in which police officers aren't," says Larry Stevenson, the cab company's communications manager. "We have assaults, we have domestic violences being reported, we have hit-and-runs, we have drunk drivers."

    After a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a 42-year-old pedestrian across town, police sent out an emergency bulletin that shows up on digital highway signs and on the fare screens of hundreds of taxis throughout the city.

    Those are all pretty clearly crimes—and they're crimes I don't think anyone around here wants people to be able to get away with. I want the police to arrest and successfully prosecute everyone who engages in domestic violence, does a hit-and-run, drives drunk, or assaults someone. Those aren't innocuous behaviors; they're behaviors that are criminalized with good reason.

    I think people who've lived in actual police states would take issue with your defining this as part of a "police state mentality."

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:04:31 PM PST

    •  I spent about a month in China nearly 20 years (0+ / 0-)

      ago. This was post Tiananmen Square, but I know we're not in a real police state, believe me. But I also see this as a step in the wrong direction. Where do you draw the line, just how many people need to be watching what percentage of the population and how often? Yeah, it's the "slippery slope" argument, which can be pretty weak tea, but I just don't like where this is headed. And more importantly, I don't want an effectively out sourced police force doing the job of policiing.

      "What profit a man, if he gain the world, but has to pay taxes on it?" Paul 8:36

      From the Gospel of St. Ron Paul in the Teachings and Misunderstandings of the Words of Adam Smith

      by ontheleftcoast on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:27:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't see it that way. (0+ / 0-)
        Where do you draw the line, just how many people need to be watching what percentage of the population and how often?
        Except that this isn't about that... it's training people on how to report crimes they see in progress. If everyone who saw a DWI, hit-and-run, or domestic assault called those things in and had training in what to look for, how to describe it, etc., our country would be a better, safer place, and not one of our freedoms would be eroded in the process.
        And more importantly, I don't want an effectively out sourced police force doing the job of policiing.
        I just don't see this as "doing the job of policing"—it's not like the cabbies are engaging or capturing the perps.

        This is more of a program to train private citizens who are going to see a lot of the city, to do what we should all be doing or equipped to do anyway.

        If I see a domestic assault or a hit-and-run, you bet I'm going to call 911—and if there were some kind of indicator in my car that would give me the license plate numbers of DWIs, I'd be looking out for them too.

        But that doesn't mean I'm doing the cops' job; they can't be expected to be everywhere all the time. It means I'm doing my duty as a citizen of the country to help the police catch people who are doing things that we all agree should be criminal acts.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:36:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bet they don't pay them any extra (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ontheleftcoast

    for doing that. Or issue them bullet-proof vests.

    It's one thing to be aware and taking care of your community, and another to make them do police-level work without the pay or compensations or protections.

    All knowledge is worth having.

    by Noddy on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:06:28 PM PST

    •  I'm not seeing the "police-level" work here. (0+ / 0-)

      They're given Amber-alert-esque lookout signals—for license plates for hit-and-runs, or people meeting certain descriptions for domestic assaults—and radio in to the police if they see the car or person matching the description.

      I see nothing here that indicates that they're engaging or capturing the suspects; they're just serving as more eyes to help the police catch people that we all agree are doing things that should be punished.

      That's no more "police-level work" than a private citizen seeing the Amber Alert sign on the road, spotting the abductor, and calling the cops.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:25:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They are (0+ / 0-)

        logging and tracking crime reports. They are expected to report crimes, and by being known as the "go to" for crime reporting, they will also become targets of some criminals.  They are out in the field, as it were, and what they're expected to do is low-level police work.

        That's a lot more than an anonymous"amber-alert-esque" look out signal.  People who call in amber alerts aren't going to be putting themselves up every single day they work as potential targets for angry gangs with hazard pay, protection, or - probably - training on how to handle things if the criminals jump them in their cabs.

        All knowledge is worth having.

        by Noddy on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:08:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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