Last week I heard an NPR segment about Taxis on Patrol. Taxi drivers are out and about at all hours, and Denver police decided to capitalize by enlisting cabbies’ help in their fight against crime.
The day after Denver launched the Taxis on Patrol program, “a cab driver helped police make an arrest for a fatal hit-and-run,” and in the intervening months, cabbies have made over a thousand calls and contributed to hundreds of arrests.
Taxi Drivers : Law Enforcement :: ??? : Your Association’s Education Team
I talked with Lloyd Tucker, deputy executive director at the Society for Technical Communication, the day before I heard the NPR piece on Taxis on Patrol. (I was interviewing him for a case study about STC’s first virtual conference that will appear in our soon-to-be released Association Virtual Events report.)
Lloyd mentioned he’d sought the help of a member and a past president of the society who was, Lloyd knew, familiar with virtual conferences. Lloyd bounced the idea of an STC virtual conference past him, and once he saw the member was enthusiastic, he enlisted his help in shaping the content, recruiting the speakers, and generally evangelizing the event, which was targeted at academics, like this member.
Lloyd’s volunteer member is a cab driver—not literally, of course. But he’s out there, on the street, seeing and hearing things that Lloyd doesn’t, things he’s more than willing to share if asked.
Who’s Not on Your Education Team But Should Be?
Who are your education department’s cabbies? Maybe, like in the STC example, they’re members or on the board. Maybe they work in other departments at your association and have complementary skills or hear a lot about members’ interests and needs.
This isn’t about adding staff—nice as that might be, we know many associations simply aren’t able to find the funds to make new hires now. It’s about finding the “force multiplier” that Denver Police Commander Tony Lopez found in taxi drivers.
Once you identify them, the critical next step—one organizations often skimp on or miss altogether—is figuring out how to systematize the use of your cabbies. Taxis on Patrol uses an Amber Alert-like bulletin system to allow drivers to report crimes or suspicious activity and provides drivers with safety training and certification. What are you equivalents?
And how might you recognize or identify your helpers? Drivers participating in Taxis on Patrol display a sticker in their cab’s window, and one cabbie in Denver was given a humanitarian award when he told police about two customers who didn’t seem capable of caring for themselves.
The clever obviousness of Taxis on Patrol and STC’s use of its member volunteer jumped out to me. Sometimes the most effective solutions are the simplest—so go find your cabbies.