Daily Point of Light # 1778 Nov 27, 2000

New York City is known for being a busy place, and in the midst of the hustle and bustle, you usually will find a cab. Many people utilize cabs and public transportation to get around. The taxi is one of the most visible institutions in the city. Currently, most cab drivers do not have a means to communicate for help in emergencies. Furthermore, taxi drivers are eight times more likely than the average person to witness a crime or emergency, and they have one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

Jason Diaz was a student at the Wharton School of Business five years ago when his friend was mugged and shot on the front steps of his home. Struck by this experience, Diaz was determined to fight crime in his community. When Jason moved to New York he continued in his community efforts to fight crime, but he wanted to create something that would have a larger impact on preventing crime. He believed a program that could tap into existing resources would be more cost-effective and sustainable in the long run. With these ideas in mind, Diaz and his friend, Steve Libenson, founded Cab Watch.

Cab Watch is a citywide neighborhood watch on wheels. It is a non-profit public/private partnership devoted to crime prevention and public safety. The program uses the expansive reach of the taxi system as its eyes and ears to report crime and other emergencies on New York’s streets. Cab Watch started as a rough concept – no funding and no volunteers. Diaz and Libenson led the design and development of this idea into a strong, new, not-for-profit organization. After extensive research, Diaz developed a business plan, got his taxi license and targeted public and private sector entities for support.

Initially, Cab Watch established a partnership with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to provide emergency response training and general assistance in program development. Then Sprint PCS agreed to become a funding corporate sponsor by donating initial funds and phones for the program in its inception; then $1,000 for the expansion phase. In addition to that, The John A. Reisenbach Foundation (JAR) – named after an advertising executive who was murdered in Greenwich Village- and La Fres Ford, the leading Ford and Taxi dealer in New York, joined the Cab Watch team and are providing financial and marketing support. Gaseteria, the fuel of choice for many cabdrivers, also provided monetary support and free gas to Cab Watch.

This program combines the strengths of the cabdriver community, corporations, city officials and concerned individuals. Police relations have improved and the highly fragmented and independent taxi industry has been united. When seconds can mean the difference between life and death, having an immediate link with 911 is critical. New York City cabdrivers are caring, concerned individuals who are very willing to help in any way they can. Cab Watch provides these drivers with a unique opportunity to make a safer New York.