UPDATE: August 4 at 4:48 p.m.
Our website is full of your opinions about a Quincy man who got arrested for running a taxi service without a license.
Jonathan Schoenakase operates Courtesy Rides in Quincy, and got caught in a police sting over the weekend
Here's just one of those comments.
Moral Compass wrote, "I have heard of few police acts which are more disgusting and disgraceful than this. A man who saves lives should not be arrested, but celebrated. I am sickened by the fact that the police would need to carry out a "sting operation" against this hero."
KHQA took these comments and concerns to the chief of police.
Last summer we first introduced you to Jonathan Schonakase and his Courtesy Rides service. He says it's a free service that takes people home if they've had too much to drink. Schoenekase says if someone offers him a tip, he will accept. And that violates the city's taxi/limousine ordinance. Over the weekend, Quincy police officers set up a sting operation to catch Schoenakase in the act of violating that city ordinance. Some of the comments on our website ask if the police department has other things to worry about than nabbing a guy who's keeping drunk drivers off the streets.
"We've got a lot of better things to do than this, but it is part of our job. We're not a one-dimensional department. There are a lot of things we can do at the same time," says Police Chief Rob Copley.
Chief Copley says part of the job of a police department is enforcing the laws and ordinances that are on the books. He adds this sting didn't take a great deal of time because it was for one specific person. A few months ago, Chief Copley was on the verge of recommending to the city council that Jonathan Schoenakase be given a taxi/limousine license. After getting a few calls, he changed his mind for two reasons. Chief Copley tells KHQA in order to be eligible for a license, a person has to be financially responsible and the chief must find that person to be of good character.
"There were fines and restitution he still owed from a 1997 forgery case he was convicted of. We checked into that. It's a matter of public record. It's there. He claimed he forgot about it. To this day, it is still not paid," says Copley.
By that, Chief Copley says he doesn't believe Schoenakase is financially responsible. After doing a little more digging, the chief doesn't feel Schoenakase has good character.
"I can't give you details because it involves a current case that's pending on a leaving the scene of a traffic crash case," says Copley.
Chief Copley has had this same conversation with Schoenakase and his business partners.
"I support the service that he was trying to provide. The fact someone would take drunks home so they don't have to drive is a needed service in this community," says Copley.
The chief says, however, the operator of such a service has to be within the color of the law. For Jonathan Schoenakase, that means getting the proper license, or stop accepting money for his service.
We tried several times to contact Jonathan Schoenakase this afternoon, but we weren't successful.
We invite you to weigh in on this situation.
Leave your comments about this, or any other story in our comment section.
UPDATE: August 4 at 9:18 a.m.
KHQA's newsroom is in the process of speaking with Jonathon Schoenakase and a representative from MADD Wednesday afternoon.
We will be meeting with someone from the Quincy Police Department again to gain additional details on this case.
Story from Monday, August 2nd
Police conducted a sting operation that nabbed the operator of Courtesy Rides.
Jonathon Schoenakase was arrested Saturday morning around 1:30 after he gave an undercover police officer a ride from a Quincy night club.
Police say they have received complaints about Courtesy Rides operations from other licensed taxi operators.
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Schoenakase began his free ride service in January 2008.
Schoenakase faces charges from a previous sting operation last February.
A change in Quincy's taxi and limousine ordinance last year makes it illegal for Schoenakase to give free rides without proper licensing.