Middletown tightening taxi-cab ordinance

8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017 Middletown
Middletown City Council is tightening up the city’s taxi-cab ordinance. Council is expected to give final approval to the updated ordinance at its Sept. 5 meeting. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Concerns about the existing standards for taxi-cabs from Middletown police and some taxi-cab companies in the city has resulted in a proposed, more stringent ordinance.

City Law Director Les Landen said the re-write of the taxi-cab ordinance, “was prompted that the standards for drivers were not well developed.”

“As taxi-cabs have resurfaced in town, there has been discussion for a few years about the city’s role through its ordinances,” he said. “Our police administration was uncomfortable with existing standards and its role. Hence, a new ordinance.”

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Police Lt. Jimmy Cunninghham said the city’s current ordinances for soliciting and for taxi-cabs are one of the least stringent in the area.

“We met with the taxi companies and they told us that it was too easy to be a taxi-cab driver in Middletown,” Cunningham said. “It was a significant problem.”

He said there were instances of convicted felons driving drug dealers around Middletown. Cunningham said some drivers have been found drivers to have falsified information on the permit applications.

Cunningham said those who have committed “violent offenses” or are driving under suspension have been eliminated from operating a cab during the application process that eventually has to be approved or denied by Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw.

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He hopes the revised ordinance — armed with its stricter penalties — will reduce the possibility of illegal activity occurring in and around the cab business, a trend police have fought in the past.

“Citizens expect some form of checks and balances in issuing taxi-cab permits,” he said.

The change, which was given a first reading at last week’s Middletown City Council meeting, is expected to be adopted at council’s Sept. 5 meeting.

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