Legislation Proposed to Eliminate Some Restrictions on Taxi Licenses

Recently, the Mount Vernon Police Department proposed legislation to the City Council to eliminate certain undue burdens on taxi licenses. This legislation is in keeping with “Ban the Box”-style initiatives that ensure qualified individuals are provided second chances at jobs. The legislation only permits applications; it does not adequately grant licenses. Individuals who apply for taxi licenses in the City of Mount Vernon must still undergo a rigorous background check and a series of interviews before being approved.

Statement from Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Shawn Harris:

“Jobs are one of the best deterrents to crime. This legislation is designed to do two things: make it easier for people to find work and keep the public safe. The current law has no provision for rehabilitation. If you were convicted of a felony, you were effectively banned for life from driving a taxi in Mount Vernon. Now we are saying that we will consider your taxi driver application — and the operative word is “consider”, because each application will be reviewed thoroughly by the Mount Vernon Taxi Commission — if you meet two criteria. One, you have been crime-free for seven years since your conviction and two, your conviction did not pertain to one of the crimes on our permanent ban list, which is included in the attached letter. Generally, they are violent, of a sexual nature or involve terrorism. In short, the most serious offenses. Crimes where taxi eligibility could be considered would be for non-violent types of felonies, such as convictions for drugs, burglaries, and white collar thefts.

Again, this legislation seeks to strike a balance. Make it easier for people to earn a living, but include strict safeguards to protect the public.”