Thursday, February 22, 2007

Undercover Taxi

Take a look at this picture. What do you see?

Good guess, but you're wrong! It's actually a police car.

I mentioned in my last post that the police activity I found myself in the middle of had vehicles of all types rushing to the scene, and that some of those vehicles were cars that look like taxicabs. This is one of them.

These "taxis" are used as undercover cars in general police work. You may see them cruising the streets as you would a regular patrol car or perhaps pulling over a motorist (they're equipped with flashing lights and sirens) who ran a red light or something. The cops are in plain clothes, not uniforms. I would guess there are about 20 of these cars in the city. I see them every day.

How can I tell? A very experienced eye can see certain differences at a glance. First off, there's the medallion number. (These are the four digits in the rooflight that are used to identify one cab from another.) If the first two digits are 6Y, it's always a police car. If the first two digits are 2W, it might be one. (Some are, some aren't.) Then there's the license plate. Real cabs have the four-digit medallion number there, too. As you can see in this picture, this car has a different set of numbers. Another thing is the black molding strip running across the doors. The Ford Crown Vic taxis that are in service today all have a yellow strip, not black.

The cops (there are always at least two in a car, sometimes more) who drive these vehicles never pick up passengers. They have meters, but they're always running. So another way of identifying them is to look inside, if you can, and see what the meter's total is. Very likely it reads some ridiculously high amount.

Seven hundred, twenty-five dollars and seventy cents. Plus the fifty-cents night charge. It's like a picture from taxi driver heaven. This is what we dream about!


Paradise Driver said...

You'll need to reload the pic, GS. It didn't make the trip.

G.S. said...

Sorry, the two pictures looked okay from my end. I have republished this post - how is it now?

Forman said...

wow I had no idea the meters were real. I thought the were props, and the light on top never connected to anything.

one time around Grand central station i saw a strnage cab. It had that long license plate with the two T's, (usually if not always, on gypsy cabs) but it had an advertisement on top, never a cop cab thing. it also had a three digit garage number on the back (421 maybe), The lone driver returned with a coffee. the light might have been on as well as the off-duty light.

there may be one or two long licensed taxi's out there to throw people off.

Joann said...

Here in San Jose the cops will just use one of our cabs--for awhile then bring it back.

Loui said...

Oooh this is like a TV series with all the phoney cop cars etc!

OK OK OK they do the same her in London I know!

J xx

John said...

I would love to see what happens when some driver tries to forct these guys off the road.

Ashiq said...

G.S. that's some serious detective work on your part. I'll be looking out for those police cabs when I'll be speeding if I ever pick up my license. But seriously with that info technically you kinda let the cat outa the bag for the NYPD.

Jessica said...

Hi G.S,

Hope this comment finds you well.

I'm a research assistant from the blogtv team of Channel NewsAsia, Singapore. is a new talk show with a never-been-done concept in Singapore. We are turning the traditional television talk show on its head by transporting the blogosphere onto the television screen. Discussion topics are derived from materials on blogosphere. Be it blogs, podcasts, video clips and all – any user-generated contents from Singapore and the region in Asia, will be used as fodder for the programme. This show has two hosts—Flying Dutchman, and Lin Xue Ling.

We're actually going to be recording an episode on the topic of taxi drivers. As part of the show, it would be interesting to get different bloggers (of various ages and even from various parts of the world) to come on to discuss the topic. In the midst of research, we actually discovered your blog and have been following up with your entries – we're hoping to get you to participate in this discussion as we feel that you would have valuable points to add to the discussion.

Discussion points will include your view on being a NYC taxi driver, your customers in general and most importantly some unique things that happened while driving…

We're wondering if we can do a Skype call with you – it will be a very short insert into the program on 1 or 2 salient points. The recording will take up 10 minutes at max. We'll work it around your schedule no worries – fyi, Singapore is 13 hours ahead of New York.

If you want to know more about the show or even catch a couple of episodes, do go to

Let me know your thoughts?



Research Assistant

Channel NewsAsia

Forman said...

wow, so this is the blog where you got called on tv? anyway, just letting you know i linked this post (sort of, i linked the february archive) from my post about the taxi bandit in the news and a shot of a cop taxi. i think your shot is better.

P.S. why does your 'archive' title and your 'previous' title, link to a blog called 'Cabhack Confessions' out of Ontario?

that's really weird.

Forman said...

i mean ottawa

Anonymous said...

You can see the lights in the grill, there are four of them.

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