|Bay Area Rapid Transit District Police Department|
|Logo of the BART Police|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Operations jurisdiction*||State of California, United States|
|Size||2,667.49 sq. mi. (6,909 km²)
(land area in 4 counties)
(4 county area)
|Legal jurisdiction||San Francisco Bay Area, California|
|Governing body||Bay Area Rapid Transit District|
|Agency executive||Kenton Rainey, Chief|
|* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.|
Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department or simply BART Police is the transit police agency of the BART rail system in California. The department has approximately three hundred police personnel including over two-hundred sworn peace officers. The chief, Kenton Rainey commands the agency's: law enforcement, parking, and community relations services. BART Police participates in a mutual aid agreement with other Bay Area law enforcement agencies. In 2011 and 2012 the department came under national scrutiny due to several officer involved fatalities of the rail system's patrons.
In 1969, three years before BART opened for revenue service, the transit district’s board of directors recommended that local police and sheriff’s departments patrol the stations, trains, rights-of-way, and other BART-owned properties that were within their respective jurisdictions. The police chiefs and sheriffs, forecasting that BART’s proposal would create jurisdictional disputes and inconsistent levels of police service, rejected the board’s proposal. As a result, legislation was passed to form an autonomous law enforcement agency, the BART Police Department.
During BART’s first 13 years of revenue service, police officers reported to the transit district’s headquarters in Oakland. In 1985, a team of officers was assigned to report to the Concord transportation facility, where a police field office was established. By not having to travel the 20 miles between Oakland and Concord, the officers were able to patrol their beats longer and become more familiar with the community. BART riders, station agents, and train operators benefited from having more police presence and interaction with the same officers. This led to three additional field offices within six months.
In July 1993, then-police chief Harold Taylor recommended a comprehensive plan to decentralize the department into four geographical police zones, each with its own headquarters and field offices. Zone commanders would be given personnel, equipment, and resources to manage their respective police operations. A peer-review panel, which included four police chiefs and the safety-audit administrator from the American Public Transportation Association, gave Chief Taylor’s plan its endorsement, along with other recommendations on how the BART police could work more closely with other transit employees, communities, businesses, and schools that the transit district serves.
Police command-level officers provide input to planners for BART’s future extensions to Warm Springs and Santa Clara County.
BART Police formerly had an eagle-top shield type badge, but recently switched to the 7-point star style traditional to Bay Area law enforcement. Uniforms are dark blue, similar to SFPD.
The BART police have various positions in their ranks. including peace officers, community service officers, dispatchers, revenue protection guards, and administrative staff. Most officers are assigned to patrol, and others are assigned to special operations teams.
The department's decentralized patrol bureau is divided into five police zones. Each has its own headquarters and field office. The police department has: criminal investigation, personnel and training, record, warrant, crime analysis, traffic administration, property and evidence, and revenue protection divisions. There is also the office of the chief which is composed of an internal affairs and a budget coordination office.
Further specialties for the police department include: field training officer, K9, SWAT, bicycle patrol, background investigator, crime analyst, administrative traffic officer, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) investigator, and undercover anti-vandalism and special-enforcement teams.
When terrorism began to be treated as a more active threat after the September 11 attacks, BART increased its emphasis on infrastructure protection. The police department hosts drills and participates in counter-terrorism working groups. The agency has an officer assigned full-time to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Furthermore, a command officer is designated as a mutual-aid, counter-terrorism, and homeland-security liaison. BART's police dogs are certified in explosives detection.
Mission and vision
The goal of the BART Police Department is to build a more community-oriented police force that is tough on crime and strong on customer service. Zone commanders and their personnel form working partnerships with BART riders, employees, community groups, educational institutions, and businesses. The goal is to ensure that personal safety, quality of life, and protection of property remain among BART’s top priorities for the stakeholders in its community.
Officer involved fatalities
Bruce Edward Seward
In 2001 a mentally ill man named Bruce Edward Seward was shot by an officer at the Hayward Station. Reportedly the sleeping passenger awoke and grabbed the officer's nightstick causing the officer to reflexively shoot him; resulting in death.
Eyewitnesses gathered direct evidence of the shooting with cellular video cameras which were later submitted to social networks such as YouTube in addition to media outlets. The videos were watched hundreds of thousands of times online in the days following the shooting, peaceful and violent demonstrations occurred.
After an investigation and public uproar Mehserle was arrested and charged with murder, to which he pleaded not guilty. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2010 and was sentenced to two years. Mehserle served his sentence at the Los Angeles County Jail and was released in 2011 on parole.
In response to the Grant shooting, BART created an oversight committee to monitor police-related incidents.
In 2011, a mentally ill homeless man, Charles Blair Hill, assaulted two officers with weapons at the Civic Center / UN Plaza station in San Francisco. As a result he was shot by BART police. The department reported that Hill was drunk and armed with two knives and a broken bottle. Approximately twenty-three seconds after arriving on scene, the officers fired three rounds, striking Hill in the chest and thus killing him. BART Police chief Kenton Rainey stated lethal force was appropriate.
Protests against BART Police
The shooting led to a non-violent but disruptive demonstration by approximately seventy-five protesters inside the Civic Center and 16th Street Stations on July 11. Demonstrators departing the 16th St Mission station returned downtown on Mission St, blocking traffic and engaging in acts of vandalism en route. One citizen was arrested for intoxication.
Cell phone network shutdown
On August 11, 2011 BART officials, successfully prevented another evening-commute anti-police demonstration by shutting down the public cell phone network serving their jurisdiction in and between the downtown San Francisco stations. The police had received information that the protest was to be coordinated live via internet and text messages. This was the first documented instance of any government agency in the United States shutting down public communications to disrupt a protest. The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision "in effect an effort by a governmental entity to silence its critics." Numerous media outlets quoted BART officials making the claim that the planned protest was a threat to public safety but did not offer any analysis of the claim's merit.
- BART warns about possible protest, Zusha Elinson, The Bay Citizen, 11-08-2011, access date 26-04-2012
- Henry K. Lee (July 18, 2001). "Family condemns BART police / Mother, brother of mentally ill victim shot at station lash out". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
- Jill Tucker; Kelly Zito, Heather Knight (2009). "Deadly BART brawl - officer shoots rider, 22". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- Eliott C. McLaughlin; Augie Martin, Dan Simon (2009). "Spokesman: Officer in subway shooting has resigned". CNN. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
- Elinor Mills (2009). "Web videos of Oakland shooting fuel emotions, protests". CNET Networks. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- Demian Bulwa; Charles Burress, Matthew B. Stannard, Matthai Kuruvilaurl (2009). "Protests over BART shooting turn violent". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 16 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-08.
- Bulwa, Demian (July 13, 2011). "Johannes Mehserle, ex-BART officer, leaves jail". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Maria L. La Ganga (2009-01-13). "BART board creates commission to oversee transit police". Los Angeles Times.
- "Protesters storm BART, slow commute out of San Francisco". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved Aug 22, 2011.
- "BART’s cellular shutdown: Safety or suppression?". KALWnews.org. Aug 12, 2011. Retrieved Aug 22, 2011.
- "Free Speech and BART Cell Phone Censorship". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved Aug 22, 2011.