August 29, 2018

BART’s police chief instituted mandatory overtime staffing, which began Aug. 6, with everyone in the department working 60-hour work weeks. But, the emergency staffing ended Sunday, said BART spokesman Jim Allison. Now, the department is asking for four officers to volunteer for overtime to patrol trains and stations, in addition to 10 dedicated patrol officers on weekdays and 24 officers who are required, at minimum, to ride the trains at least four times during their shifts, he said. On weekends, BART is asking for 10 community service officers, who are not sworn police officers, to volunteer for overtime.

BART’s governing board approved parts of the proposed safety plan earlier this month, but delayed the most controversial elements, including whether to install an advanced surveillance system and ban panhandling, among others. The board’s next meeting in September is expected to address those items and will be held at night in a city other than Oakland, where BART is headquartered, to allow riders in other parts of the East Bay the opportunity to comment.

The $6.8 million grant from FEMA will help pay for a dedicated team of officers to patrol trains traveling through BART’s busiest stations, upgraded security cameras and radio equipment at its Powell Street, Civic Center and 16th Street stations.

Established in 2011, BART police’s Critical Asset Patrol, or CAP, team is tasked with deterring terrorist activity and looking out for suspicious activities, but the agency said it would also help increase officers’ visibility on trains and in stations.

The grant will also help BART convert its analog cameras at 16th Street to digital ones and install radio equipment to connect to regional systems for San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The radio equipment will allow police officers, firefighters and paramedics to maintain radio coverage on their own radios even when underground.

BART applied for the grant on June 4, Allison said. But, it took some nudging by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, to actually get the award, BART’s General Manager Grace Crunican said in a statement.

“The grant provides an extra boost to the important steps we’re already taking to improve the safety and security of BART riders,” she said.

Article: Erin Baldassari, San Jose Mercury News