About 50 Washington, D.C. taxi drivers attended a law enforcement/taxi driver town hall meeting on Monday, May 23 to discuss numerous issues that are hurting drivers’ ability to make a living. The meeting was sponsored by the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association, which is affiliated with Local 922.
One of the key issues involves an officer from the city’s 5th District in Northeast, who many taxi drivers argue is unfairly targeting and ticketing drivers. Officer Thomas Krmenec issued 842 tickets to taxi drivers during the first 10 months of 2015, nearly half of all tickets the city’s officers gave drivers during that stretch, according to an article in The Washington Post.
During the town hall meeting, several drivers said the officer is harming their livelihoods by unfairly issuing tickets, often with fines of several hundred dollars per stop.
“We are tired of the mistreatment,” one driver said of the officer.
Capt. Philip Lanciano of the Metropolitan Police Department’s 5th District said officers focus on ticketing all drivers—taxi drivers and others—to protect public safety. He said 230 motorists were arrested during the first three months of 2016 and he described the various offenses, saying that targeting dangerous drivers in general helps improve the safety for all residents and reduces other crime.
Lanciano and Lt. Cheryl Crawley of the MPD’s Special Liaison Division urged drivers to file citizen complaints against MPD officers if they feel they are treated unfairly.
Several drivers said they have filed such complaints with little success.
Dennis Starks of the D.C. Taxicab Commission was also on hand discussing enforcement by the city’s hack inspectors.
Several taxi drivers complained that hack inspectors are unfair in their enforcement. In addition, Uber X and Lyft drivers have an advantage because their company logos are not always displayed, so it allows them to not be noticed by hack inspectors.
Starks conceded that the D.C. law requiring the logo displays fell short because it did not address where on the vehicles the logos need to be displayed.
As for enforcement concerns, Starks urged the drivers to give their feedback at [email protected]
“Although we didn’t have enough time for all the drivers to ask questions, I think this meeting was beneficial to the drivers who belong to our taxi association,” said Royale Simms, a Business Agent with Teamsters Local 922. “We hope to have similar meetings in the future so that more drivers can provide feedback to the police and to the DCTC.”