Police Commissioner William Evans and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association agree that the public safety measures outlined in the Senate bill regulating Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft are woefully insufficient in several ways and more must be done to protect the public:
First, the bill only disqualifies an individual from driving for a TNC if the individual has a criminal conviction for certain offenses within the past seven years. This means that an individual who committed a violent crime such as rape or murder, more than seven years ago, could be cleared to drive for a TNC. This is an enormous public safety risk that can easily be eliminated with a mandate for more comprehensive background checks that reach back more than seven years.
Second, the BPD has seen firsthand the value and benefit provided when drivers are subject to fingerprinting. Fingerprinting enables law enforcement agencies to view long term criminal history information that could ultimately disqualify an applicant. In the past year, thanks to the BPD's fingerprinting protocols, the BPD's Hackney Carriage Unit terminated and revoked licenses of three separate operators after fingerprint checks revealed criminal histories which included past arrests for rape, attempted murder and indecent sexual assault on a minor. The legislation proposed by the Senate would allow the very same three operators to retain their licenses.
Lastly, there must be a mandate for proactive information sharing with law enforcement when the TNC receives a report of a crime either by a driver or a passenger. TNC's should not be left to handle the response to criminal conduct through administrative penalties. Without a proactive reporting requirement, police are unable to investigate these crimes, and therefore protect the public. TNCs must be mandated to report any and all criminal conduct to police.
In closing, allowing passengers to enter a vehicle-for-hire without a full and comprehensive understanding of the person behind the wheel puts these passengers in harm's way. When a passenger enters a vehicle there should be no questions, concerns or doubts about the operator's criminal history or the operator's potential to re-offend. For this reason, Boston Police and the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association continue to urge the legislature to craft and pass a comprehensive bill which sufficiently protects the public.