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Ohio taxi drivers to help police

– Taxi drivers will be drafted as official lookouts for police as part of a program being adopted by a central Ohio cab company.

Yellow Cab of Columbus recently said it is adopting the national Taxis on Patrol initiative, creating a partnership among the cab company, Columbus police and the county sheriff’s office.

“We travel 7 million miles annually,” company president Jeff Kates said during the event announcing the program.

“Our drivers can and do see quite a lot … . If you see something, you say something.”

As part of the program, specially trained Yellow Cab drivers will report suspicious activities to police. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the company is paying for cameras similar to dashboard cameras in police cruisers to be installed in each of the company’s 130 taxis in Columbus to help document what happens and to protect the drivers from crime.

Columbus police have helped develop a video and other training materials to show drivers what they need to do, including how to accurately describe a suspect. The materials also show what not to do – including getting personally involved.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to have this partnership,” Columbus police Deputy Chief Richard Bash said.

Norman Scroggins, a Yellow Cab driver, already has completed the training. He just started with Taxis on Patrol but not long ago, he called police “the way any decent person would” after seeing a case of domestic violence from his taxi. He said the training will allow him and others to be of even more assistance to police.

“I have a mother and a sister,” he said. “I would want someone to help them.”