Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Boston Police Captain Arthur Cadegan letter to Dr. Ronald Malt

July 16, 1985

Ronald A. Malt, M. D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts  02114

Dear Dr. Malt:

I am in receipt of your letter to Mayor Raymond Flynn relative to the safety petition in the Boston taxicabs.  The issue of safety petitions was addressed by the Police Commissioner's Office and became mandatory for all Boston taxicabs on June 1, 1969.  At this time, the metal shield was adopted to protect the torso of the driver and a plastic material, with a sliding door on the right side, was mandated for the area above the back seat to the roof of the taxicab.

The reason for the safety factors mentioned above was to protect the taxi drivers from some of their customers who used knives and clubs to effectuate robberies.  The plastic section of the partition was initially made of plexi-glas but changed to 3/8" Lexon in 1982 after the death of a driver from a bullet wound inflicted by his passenger. The Lexon material has been tested by the Police Department Ballistics Unit to determine its bullet resistant capability.  The tests proved that the material will stop a .22 cal, .38 cal.and .45 cal. round fired from the rear compartment of the taxicab.  In late 1984, one taxicab operator had the unfortunate experience of being subjected to a passenger attempt­ing to rob him and firing a .38 cal. round at said partition.  The round was deflected by the Lexon material and located on the rear shelf of the vehicle behind the rear seat.

Captain Arthur Cadegan, Hackney Carriage Inspector,has been the recipient of several writcen communications from officials of the U.S. Department of Transportation plus follow-up telephone calls from these officials.  The subject matter of these communications dealt with the Lexon partition, not the metal shielding.  The metal sheathing is similar to the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission specifications for their leased taxi­cab  The purpose of this shield is to stop a .45 cal. bullet fired from the rear seat at the driver of the taxicab.  This Department has not been put on notice that any children riding in the rear compartment of our taxi­cabs have suffered any facial injuries.  We are in constant communication with attorneys involved in civil litigation with members of the Boston Taxi industry.


An investigation by this office disclosed that a Boston taxicab driver and former owner of a Boston taxicab has been posting notices on the back of the Lexon partition stating that the partition does not conform to DOT standards.  He is the same person who raised the issue about two years ago with DOT officials.  His primary reason for this crusade was due to the rejection by the Hackney Carriage Unit of a modified Lexon partition which he installed in a few Boston taxicabs.  His partition was deemed to be less safe for the taxicab drivers than the currently authorized partition.

The Department specifications for the cash-transfer device require a Lexon-hinged unit, not a rigid unit.  The Boston Cab Association taxicab, medallion #209 will be recalled for police inspection to determine whether the change device is metal or Lexon and hinged or rigid.  If metal, the owner will be ordered to remove it and if rigid, whatever its composition, it must be replaced.  Unless the passengeridriver is placing currency in this device, the device must not project in the direction of the passenger. Thus, no part of the device would be a danger to the passenger.

A notice will be sent out to the owners to insure that the change transfer device is Lexon and hinged.

One should conclude from the above that the protective parti-tion is mandated for the protection of the drivers.  The Police Department's decision to require the installation of the partitions, including the metal shields, came about after a series of public hearings with the Boston taxi drivers and owners.  Some of the letters complained of the additional cost factors, but the drivers were strongly supportive.  Each instance wherein a driver is killed or seriously injured by a passenger, the majority of the drivers demand more protective measures.  Why taxicab drivers from cities with a greater number of personal violence crimes do not demand some protective partitions, including protective shields to protect their backs, may be explained by psychiatrists.  They are either macho-types, like the thrill of Russian roulette or some similar personality trait.  Boston has endeavored to protect passengers and drivers alike.

                                                                                                                                    Captain Arthur C.                             
Inspector of Hackney Carriages

CC Linda Jenkins Consumer Affairs


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