V.I. Police Department Assistant Commissioner Raymond Hyndman announced last week the creation and launch of “Taxi Watch,” a community crime prevention program which relies on the “eyes and ears” of island taxi drivers to assist police in public safety measures.
Taxi Watch is presently operational on St. Thomas and St. John with St. Croix expected to come on line in the near future.
“Taxi Watch is similar to other crime prevention and community watch programs with the added benefit that mobile taxi operators who traverse the islands on a daily basis now have a direct link to the 911 emergency center to report crimes or suspicious behavior,” said Hyndman.
The program is a collaboration between the VIPD, VITEMA and the V.I. taxi industry, St. Thomas/St. John district. Representatives of these organizations signed a memorandum of agreement. Taxi operators have allowed police to access their individual radio frequency to allow them to directly contact 911 to transmit and receive information. Operators can also use their cell phones to contact 911.
“The taxi drivers are an excellent resource in territory-wide crime prevention efforts,” Hyndman said. “They go everywhere and see everything. With this program the entire island becomes a neighborhood watch area.”
VIPD Commissioner Novelle Francis commended the taxi drivers for agreeing to be “part of the solution.”
“This innovative project…brings an advanced level of ownership to these community members,” said Francis. “It is the highest level of community policing.”