A public hearing on an amendment to Southampton Town’s taxi law that would require drivers to be fingerprinted by the local police department when they apply for licenses is scheduled for Tuesday.
Councilman Stan Glinka, who has proposed the legislation, said officials are concerned about the safety of passengers after some license applicants were found to have offenses such as driving while intoxicated and theft in their backgrounds.
Officials are also concerned about a new Uber policy in Rhode Island and Connecticut possibly being adopted in New York, allowing drivers convicted of some nonviolent offenses such as resisting arrest and check fraud to work for the app-based transportation company.
The measure would go into effect Jan. 1.
“We came across several applicants who we could not issue permits to because of previous infractions that would not conform to our standards and codes,” Glinka said in an interview Monday.
Glinka said the applicants had obtained their vehicle-for-hire license from Suffolk County and had been fingerprinted to qualify, but “things can fall through the cracks, so we want to make sure we also do fingerprinting through our police department and make sure someone should be driving.”
Although fingerprinting is now a requirement for local licensing, fingerprinting done by Suffolk County is accepted.
“We were basically allowing them to be grandfathered,” Glinka said of drivers applying for local operator licenses. “Now we’re being more stringent. We don’t want to be liable for the safety aspect. It’s all about public safety.”
A New York representative for Uber could not immediately be reached for comment on the proposed legislation, but MoMo Zhou, a spokeswoman for Uber’s San Francisco office, referred to an October Facebook post by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick when asked about Uber’s new policy in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“Uber began working on loosening its rules earlier this year after California reduced the penalty for some crimes and changed them from felonies to misdemeanors,” Kalanick said in the post. He added, “Connecticut and Rhode Island also adopted new laws allowing convicts more access to jobs.”
The post added, “Millions of Americans have served their time and want to earn an honest living. To break the cycle of recidivism, we need to give them a second chance.”
The hearing is to be held at 1 p.m. at Southampton Town Hall.