To the editor:
We have been contacted by several media outlets over the past week for a response to the Mobile Police Department’s allegations of price gouging by local tow companies. While I have asked that our members refrain from responding to the irresponsible and careless comments that have come from Assistant Chief Roy Hodge, Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber and the Mobile Police Department, I can sit by no longer and watch as these men and women take the brunt of the decision in which I encouraged.
In making this public statement, I would, first, like to reach out to our members, as well as all others in Mobile’s towing industry who have been affected by such allegations and encourage all to hold strong to your integrity in the face of such malicious assassinations being aimed at your person and business.
We would like to express to the public, that we, in no way, condone overcharging or taking advantage of the citizens of Mobile. If such allegations are proven, we completely support any punishments to the offender as may be fitting. However, we also ask that public opinion remain neutral until such allegations are brought to light.
As many may not be aware, tow-truck operators are classified as first responders all over the United States. Yet, their lives and work are not seen with the same appreciation as other professions. Many are regarded as second-class citizens or their work not being worth the money spent. Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries suggest that being a tow-truck operator is the seventh most dangerous job in the United States; even more so than being a police officer (18th) or a firefighter (24th), with a tow-truck operator killed every six days in the United States.
The prices that one may charge for this work are set by the Mobile Police Department and not the actual company that is charging the rate. Any fraying from the stipulations that are set forth in the governing Ordinance regarding Wrecker Service are not and should not be tolerated. It is, however, recommended that one be informed of such rules and the consequences of infractions before coming to judgement on this matter as a whole.
Crystal M. Smith, President
South Alabama Towing and Recovery Association
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