City Moves Forward With Tiny Taxi-Cam Program

Program's been in place since 2007

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Thousands of miniature cameras will soon be snapping pics of passengers.

    Smile, you’re on cabbie camera.

    In an effort to deter violent crimes against Chicago’s cab drivers, the city plans to install tiny cameras in thousands of taxis over the next few years, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    The cameras, which are mounted on the cabbies’ rear view mirror, will snap a panoramic photo of passengers when they get in and out of the taxi or when the meter is turned on. A panic button allows the driver to snap more photos, and a sign will warn passengers they’re being photographed.

    About 1,000 of the cameras have already been installed since the city's Department of Consumer Service approved their installation in 2007. Officials say at least one cab driver related crime, in which a pair of teens stole a cab in 2008, was solved thanks to the photos.

    "It was an open-and-close case," Agosta said. "Cabdrivers have always been victims of robberies, thefts, rip-offs. It's really too bad. Hopefully these cameras can help."

    Cab drivers interviewed by the Tribune said they feel safer with the technology.

    "They see the camera, and they hold back," Selvin Quire, a 30-year-vet of the business told the Tribune about men he thinks may have attempted to rob him recently. "They get scared. It's a lot better."

    There isn’t a lot of opposition to the program, even from personal privacy stalwarts who bemoan the city’s extensive use of cameras to document its citizens’ every move.

    "A private company can engage to help with safety or loss of protection," Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the ACLU said. "The key is that they notify their customers that it's taking place."