More cops hit streets


More cops hit streets

Observer writer

Friday, December 18, 2020

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AS the number of kidnappings and robberies by men posing as taxi operators continue to rise, head of the Corporate Communications Unit, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Stephanie Lindsay, says more police officers have already been deployed to ensure safety, especially with the Yuletide season approaching.

“More police officers are already on the streets. We have also scaled back on non-core operations to focus on this. So, it's not only traffic cops; we have increased our surge operations and recruited additional help on our roads,” she told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Since late last month, multiple victims have come forward to share their ordeals with criminals masquerading as taxi operators. One of the ghastliest experiences was carried in the newspaper on Sunday, December 6, which entailed the abduction and blindfolding of a household worker in September. The woman was set free by her captors after providing them with an incorrect personal identification number (PIN). The four-digit number was the same as one of the robbers' mother's birth year.

SSP Lindsay is also appealing to commuters to exercise their discretion on their daily journeys.

“Both men and women have to be aware and alert. Take red plate vehicles that are registered as PPV (public passenger vehicle). There's also JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) buses that are far safer. Should you deicide to take a private vehicle, do not go into any with a lot of men or too many strange faces. At least, travel with someone whom you've seen on your route before,” she continued.

Meanwhile, president of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Egerton Newman, says legitimate taxi drivers are alarmed at their smeared reputation, and a significant decrease in revenue.

“Over the last four to five weeks, there has been numerous reports of kidnappings particularly in the Kingston Metropolitan Area. Many of the taxi drivers in the association are getting a bad name and we have been losing money because people have started to walk to New Kingston from Half-Way-Tree. This year, we lost revenue with corona because we had to start carrying less passengers, and now, we're losing even more revenue because people start walk. It was just this morning I heard that more people have started to credit cars just to avoid taking taxis,” said the president of the 7,000-member association.

Newman added that it will become mandatory for all registered taxi drivers to show some form of identification.

“They will be required to wear your IDs at all times, wear uniforms and ensure that your cars are marked properly as PPVs. The reason so many culprits have gotten red plates is because they steal them from abandoned taxis. When you're attired properly and your car is marked, it will be easy for commuters to know that it's safe to take particular vehicles,” he told the Observer.

Formed in 2012, TODSS represents and lobbies for the rights of public transport operators across the island.

Its president also stated that the association is on a 40-day road safety campaign to spread awareness about dos and don'ts for commuters and drivers.

“As taxi or bus drivers, we cannot ask for protection. If we have a knife, we get ticketed for it so really there is nothing much we can do to defend ourselves from attackers. I am saying to transporters, once it passes 6 o'clock think twice about who you carry. If you don't know them and they look suspicious, do not pick them up. Just go home. Start working from 6:00 am so by evening time you can go home. As for commuters, if you can, take a picture of the car or licence plate before getting into it and send somebody and tell them where you're going because many times, they steal your phone if they plan to kidnap you,” Newman continued.

The campaign began on November 26 and runs to January 5, 2021.

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