Miami Cabbies Don't Want to Pick Up the Tab for New Security Cameras

Tipsy beach bunnies routinely barf in their back seats. Robbers put guns to their heads, demanding cash. Crack addicts try to beat them to death for no reason.

Life is tough for Miami's 4,500 cab drivers. Now it's getting tougher, as they could have to pay for new security cameras meant to protect them.

"It's ridiculous to make us pay for these cameras," says Nina Agresta, a cabbie and spokeswoman for two taxi drivers associations.

Several weeks ago, County Commissioner Joe Martinez proposed mounting security cameras on taxi dashboards to prevent crimes like the spree of cab robberies earlier this summer.

If passed, Martinez's proposal would gradually phase-in the cameras, requiring them on new taxi cabs only. But cabbies like Agresta are still pissed that they will have to pick-up the tab, now or in the long run.

Flyers around MIA and taxi company offices warn that the price tag could reach $4,000, and urge cabbies to speak out against the idea.

Cabbies themselves are mixed over the notion of requiring security cameras, although they're all against paying for them.

"I think it's an invasion of privacy," argues Agresta, a spokeswoman for New Vision Taxi Drivers and the Cabbies Association. "I don't want a video of me picking my nose ending up on the internet."

Fellow cab driver Moeeq Nasir says the county should be doing everything it can to protect cabbies. That includes requiring partitions, cameras, and special door handles designed to capture clients' fingerprints in case of a crime, he says.

Martinez's proposal doesn't spell out who will pay for the new cameras or how much they will cost. But Agresta says the commissioner told her and other cabbies at a meeting earlier this month that the issue could be decided as early as next week.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.