DC hack inspector has long criminal record; Taxicab Commission u - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

DC hack inspector has long criminal record; Taxicab Commission unaware

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WASHINGTON -

The head of the D.C. Taxicab Commission admitted Thursday he does not know the backgrounds of any of his hack inspectors and was surprised to learn one of them has been arrested multiple times since the 1980s and has multiple convictions for robbery.

Ron Linton says background checks are done by another city agency and he has no authority to do his own investigations.

Linton told FOX 5 he is going to speak with the city administrator and the attorney general about changes that need to be made.

Hack inspectors wear police-style uniforms and drive around the city in marked cruisers enforcing the rules of the taxi industry. They have the power to impound cabs and confiscate licenses.

In an interview Thursday, Linton said he had no idea one of his hack inspectors had a long criminal record until FOX 5 told him about it this week.

The man has not been suspended and FOX 5 is withholding his name until further questions can be answered.

"This agency, DCTC, is not the agency that does the background checks,” said Linton. “That's a personnel matter and goes through the Department of Human Resources and I am not knowledgeable about the rules and regulations that they apply when they do the clearance on positions that they forward to us.”

The criminal background of the hack inspector in question was uncovered by Price Benowitz attorney Shawn Sukumar, who was representing a client who was accused of threatening the inspector. Sukumar questioned the man in court earlier this week.

“(He was) very calm actually when he was testifying. He was very methodical, well-spoken as a matter of fact, and when he was challenged on his prior record, he made no attempt to fight it, made no attempt to dispute it," said Sukumar, who was astounded when he learned of the man’s criminal history.

"Well I think that the least a District of Columbia resident can expect is that when the city puts people in uniform, sends them out on the street to enforce District of Columbia laws, the least people can expect is these people are people of integrity and that these people are not convicted felons,” Sukumar added.

Linton says he is concerned enough about the integrity of his hack inspectors to see if changes can be made.

"I will ask the city administrator for a meeting to discuss the problems and the issue with this to see what we can arrive at to resolve my concern,” said Linton. “My preference and my belief is that our hack inspectors should be at the same level of integrity and background as any enforcement officer.”

Linton says he currently has 13 hack inspectors with the budget to build a force of 29.

"Well, knowing what I know now, I would probably…have a background check similar to the background check we have on drivers,” he said.

A city government source familiar with the process says the hack inspector in question did not have to undergo a background check, and that as a rule, hack inspectors are not subject to them.

But on the District’s human resources website, a criminal history disclosure form asks prospective employees if they have been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years.

It is unclear what the hack inspector in question said on his application or the year he applied.


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