D.C. taxicab industry representatives, alarmed at a recent rash of robberies and shootings of cabdrivers here, are scheduled to meet today with Mayor Walter E. Washington and Police Chief Maurie J. Cullinane to map a counteroffensive.
Leaders of the Taxicab Industry Group, which represents 85 per cent of the city's 11,000 cabbies, also said they are preparing to offer rewards totaling $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for the assaults.
Meanwhile, police took two men into custody yesterday after a cabdriver, who has held up at knife point in still another robbery attempt, captured oen man after a foot chase and plainclothes officers arrested the other.
The holdup was the third to occur yesterday and the ninth this month, according to police. One cabdriver was shot and killed, three have been wounded by gunfire and five threatened with knives, guns or other weapons.
Police said three appears to be no particular pattern in the manner, location or time of the holdups, but one official added that the four robberies involving gunfire were "unusually vicious" and may have been committed by a single group of two to four teen-ages, including at least one female.
"Cabbies have a no-win proposition," said Lt. James Waybright, assistant chief of the robbery squad. "Any young punk who's never held up anybody before can try it out on a cabdriver . . . All he needs is a Saturday night special, and you know how many of those are around."
Today's scheduled meeting of cab industry leaders and police at the mayor's office will be closed to the press and general public, according to a spokesman for Mayor Washington, because it will include discussion of "security measures" for cabdrivers, and we don't particularly want to broadcast such things around."
Officials would not discuss specific measures yesterday. One ploy used by police during a similar rash of taxi robberies two years ago, however, involved having officers pose as cabdrivers. Police claim the effort brought about a reduction in taxi holdups.
In the current rash of holdups, the robbery squad has assigned a seven-man detachment of detectives, headed by Sgt. Herman McNeil, to work exclusively on tracing clues and fingerprinting suspects.
William J. Wright, chairman of the Taxicab Industry Group, said yesterday the cabbies themselves have not resorted to any new or unusual precautionary measures.
"They've already done just about everything they can," he said. ". . . I don't know of any who are carrying weapons. We discourage that kind of thing. We think that's the best way to get a whole lot of people hurt."
As a matter of routine, many taxi drivers now carry only small amounts of cash, limit their driving to daylight hours and avoid picking up passengers they consider suspicious.
In recent years, Wright said, more drivers have put two-way radios in their cars so that they can signal to a cab company dispatcher for help. He estimated that about 2,000 of the 8,500 to 9,000 taxicabs in the city now are radio-equipped.
But radios are expensive, he said, ranging from $400 for a used set to $1,000 "for your new top-quality radio."
Bulletproof shields separating driver from passenger have not been popular, also because of the cost, Wright said.
"A shield costs $399, plus about $25 for installation," he said, "and when the driver buys a new car, he shield usually won't fit, and it's no use to him anymore."
One cabdriver, Julian Taylor, a 63-year-old retired Navy Department employee who was shot twice in the stomach during a $4 robbery last Tuesday, appeared to be undaunted by the experience.
"I plan to continue driving when I get out (of Greater Southeast Community Hospital)," he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
"I haven't considered any other line of work," he said, "It's just a chance you have a take."
Taylor was shot after two teen-agers, one carrying a pistol, got into his cab at Portland Street and Martin Luther King Avenue SE and demanded his money.
"I started fighting with them, and that's when they shot me," Taylor said, ". . . They got no more than $4".
Taylor said he expects to be leased from the hospital Thursday.
Dennis Wade, 41, one of the three cabdrivers robbed yesterday, was luckier than Taylor.
According to police reports, Wade picked up two men at 1st Street and Rhode Island Avenue NE at 11 a.m. He drove to an alley in the rear of the 1700 block of Hobart Street NW where one of the men put a knife to Wade's neck and demanded his money, police said.
Wade surrendered $50, and when they demanded more, he suddenly stepped on the accelerator, and then hit the brakes a moment later, grabbing his assailant's arm in the confusion, according to police. He then wrested the knife from the assailant and chased him on foot to nearby 17th and Irving Streets, where he captured and held him until two plainclothes officers arrived, police said. Using Wade's description, the officers arrested a second suspect moments later.
The suspects, charged with armed robbery, were identified by police as Ray Holmes, 23, of 1215 Meigs St. NE, and Eugene Burton, 25, of 321 T St. NW.
In the second taxi robbery yesterday, police said cabdriver James R. Curtis, 69, also was held at knife point after picking up two men at 14th and K Streets NW at about 3 a.m. He was relieved of $45 and his wristwatch, then released unharmed in an alley in the 1300 block of New York Avenue NW, police said.
The third cabdriver robbery victim yesterday was Allen C. Wiley, 23, who picked up two young men in the 1500 block of East Capitol Street at 2:50 p.m., according to police. Both men drew pistols, ordered Wiley to drive over the District line into Maryland near Eastern Avenue and Nash Street NE and took $45 from him there, police said. They then released him unharmed at Kenilworth the Eastern Avenues NE police said.