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New York gives cab drivers cell phones to fight crime

To all the names given to cabbies, add crime fighter.

Police announced Monday that 50 New York City taxis will be equipped with cellular phones by April so drivers can report crimes, fires or accidents.The program "gives us the opportunity to have many more eyes and ears out there," Police Commissioner Howard Safir said. "What we want them to do is just report - not do anything."

The phones for the Cab Watch program, programmed to reach 911 emergency dispatchers, will be provided for free by Sprint PCS. The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission is expected to screen taxi drivers to find those with good driving records.

What about those harried New Yorkers who'd rather get somewhere than wait for cabbies to dial 911?

"That's something each cab driver will have to decide on his own based on his passenger," Safir said, "but I can't imagine most New Yorkers would not want to assist the police in reporting a crime in progress."