Massachusetts toll takers not packing heat anymore

| 2/28/2008

If you’ve ever traveled the Massachusetts Turnpike, it probably never occurred to you that your money was being taken by pistol-packing toll collectors. The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that toll takers have been allowed to carry guns for at least three decades as protection against the possible robbery of toll money.

As state Sen. Steve Baddour told the Boston Herald: “It’s absurd. The last time I saw a toll taker carrying a gun was when Sonny got blown away in ‘The Godfather.’ ”

The Herald also reported that Alan LeBovidge, the turnpike’s executive director, said he did not want “a wild West show out there.”

LeBovidge said he ordered 16 employees to turn in their weapons because there was no proof they had the proper state police firearms training. He also said the weapons – all .38-caliber Smith and Wesson pistols issued by the Pike – were not being properly maintained. Some were found to have misaligned firing pins and other problems.

Wednesday, Feb. 27, a Mass Pike labor leader called for the firing of LeBovidge. The dispute over the weapons is part of an ongoing battle between LeBovidge and union toll takers. LeBovidge told the Herald last week that he expects to lay off some toll takers because he wants to expand electronic tolling on the highway.