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He’s Got the Meter Running On Crime

Illustration by Jason Farris

A New York cab driver was making the rounds one spring night when he saw another cabbie being beaten up and robbed. He summoned police with his cell phone, and within minutes, the three assailants were arrested. Without his intervention, says Jason Diaz W’95, “Who knows what would have happened?”
    Diaz counts this among dozens of success stories that have emerged from Cab Watch, a program he launched two years ago to equip taxis with 911-only cell phones and train drivers how to report emergencies. The phones are now in more than 1,000 taxis.
    A used cell-phone drive has yielded another 1,000 phones, which will go in city cabs once his organization raises money for signs and training.
    Since the program began with just 50 cell phones (“Alumni Profiles,” June 1998), drivers have reported everything from pickpockets to hit-and-run accidents to shootings. For more anecdotes, see (www.cabwatch.com).
    “It’s been sort of an exciting adventure,” says Diaz, who took a leave from his management-consulting job to develop Cab Watch and is now considering requests to bring it to other cities, including Philadelphia, Buffalo, London, Boston and Chicago.
A small-scale version will soon be tested in Washington.

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