Nevada Enlists Taxi, Limo Drivers in Homeland Security Efforts

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada officials are enlisting the state's taxicab and limousine drivers to increase the number of people looking for suspicious activity in one of the nation's top travel destinations.

About 25,000 laminated cards are being distributed as part of the state's homeland security efforts, said George Togliatti, director of the state's public safety department.

The cards list examples of suspicious activity, along with law enforcement contact information, Togliatti said Wednesday.

"It empowers people to be the eyes and ears, to assist law enforcement," said Kim Evans, department spokeswoman. "It's really a cheat sheet to remind folks about what to watch for as well as important phone numbers in each region."

The cards ask drivers to be on the lookout for "overly curious, nervous or cautious individuals; unusual behavior of drivers or delivery personnel; suspicious packages and storage devices; people who are taking photographs or making diagrams of high-profile targets."

Las Vegas has been considered a terror target since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when it was determined that Mohammed Atta and his hijackers made trips there before their suicide attacks on New York City and Washington. Two video tapes obtained by the Justice Department suggest terrorists have cased Las Vegas casinos.

While the city's hotel-casinos have stepped up security efforts after Sept. 11, it's the first time taxi drivers have been asked to actively participate in looking for suspicious activity in Las Vegas, which saw a record 37.4 million visitors last year.

The cost of the cards, put at $8,000 to $10,000, was paid for by Cashman Equipment Co., a heavy equipment dealer in Las Vegas. The cards also will be distributed to commercial truck drivers.

The Nevada Taxicab Authority has been distributing the cards for the past two weeks to drivers who renew their permits or take a driving class.

"It's a good program," said Rob Stewart, authority spokesman. "At any one time in the (Las Vegas) valley, there are about 2,000 cabs on the roads. That's another 2,000 sets of eyes."