Wednesday, February 8, 2017


By Juan Montoya
Do you know why there are only white taxi cabs in the City of Brownsville?
In 1998, a majority of the city commission led by commissioner Bud Richards who was joined by Ernie Hernandez and Harry McNair passed an ordinance that is still with us to this day.
In it the trio decided the city should mandate what clothes a cabbie should wear, to the age and color of the car he drove.

This was in the days when there were only five at-large city commissioners instead of the seven today.

"I feel that it's important to set our standards as high as possible," Hernandez said at the time. "I think it'll send a real strong message."

Hernandez, McNair and Richards ignored pleas from city cabbies and passed an amended version of the ordinance that banned the use of cabs older than eight years and reduced the number of permits from 95 to 85. Only then-Mayor Henry Gonzalez and commissioner John Wood voted against the ordinance.

Richards said the reason for the ordinance was to make a good first impression on visitors through the cab drivers they're likely to encounter at the airport, hotels, in downtown streets and the international bridges. Commissioners even discussed requiring the cabbies to learn Brownsville history so they could inform and charm tourists.

Despite the threat of a legal battle in court by drivers with the Red Top Taxis, Yellow Cabs and Checker cabs – among other multi-colored trademark companies – the ordinance passed.

We wonder what this trio would do if they were in office and they saw the multi-colored hues of the vehicles in use now by the Brownsville Police Dept. Aside from the light-blue hued traditional cars, we now have white cars, black and white (the newest ones) and some cars with fluorescent paint that can only bee seen when your headlights shine on them.

(As an aside, a former law enforcement officer was telling us that the light-blue hued color was chosen by the late city commissioner Jesse Sloss because they were the colors of the Virgin of San Juan in the hopes that she would protect the officers.)

Then, of course, there are the undercover unmarked cars. Will visitors to the city be confused when they see so many different hued law enforcement vehicles. They will be mixed in with the Border Patrol cars and trucks (las perreras), the black and whites of the UTRGV-Brownsville cars, the three or so security companies in town, the sheriff's department brown cars, etc.

Is it time to bring back Hernandez, McNair and Richards to bring uniformity to the cops? After all, Hernandez and McNair also backed Richards when he told then-city manager that he should treat cops "like Hitler would" when they made demands on the city.

Yeah, that's the ticket!


Anonymous said...

Just like in mexico brownsville has no uniformity
HarlinChen and macallen don't have this issue.
Just here in Beantown.
Openning the door for pseudo cop assaults.

Victor Jackson said...

Im guessing its a matter of money.The city cannot afford to replace the entire fleet of police vehicles at the same time.They can't afford several thousand dollars to paint the older white units for a paint job that will only be good for about another year while they get replaced.A lot of the old white police units are transferred to other city departments and they would have to be painted white again so they could be utilized by the other departments. That is probably the way the police department is thinking and saving the city money.Thats just what I think makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Oh, for the good old days.

Anonymous said...

You write as if anyfuckingbody gives a shit about this and everything else to do with Brownsville. Why?

Victor Jackson said...

The police dept can't afford to replace all its police units at the same time. The old white units that remain will be eventually replaced when funds are available. It would cost several thousand dollars to paint them black and white.A lot of those white units will be given to other departments for use.It doesn't make sense to paint them blk and white then paint them again for use by other departments. It would be a waste of taxpayer money.They may be different colors now but the units are all marked Brownsville Police and the officers all wear blue uniforms.The units could be five different colors but its the officers that really matter and not the color of the units.It wasn't until the early 70s that the units were painted blue and white and came with ac units.Before that the patrol cars were all different colors and didn't even have mounted emergency lights. Times have changed and so have the costs of the units.The cost of the equipment that goes into a patrol car is almost as much as the cost of the vehicle itself.The city is trying the best it can but cannot afford to replace every unit at the same time unless you want to raise taxes and nobody wants that.

Anonymous said...

I dont understand what your concern is?

I like both white and blue and all black... they look professional and serious. should they all be the same, maybe.. will it make a difference, probably not - will we receive less tourist, i seriously doubt it.

Do as I do, put your seat belt on, drive within the speed limit, don't commit crimes. If you follow these simple rules you won't have to have a close encounter with the Police therefore suffer less stress thinking about the police car colors.

No mames!!