BART must have own police department
Of course BART should have an independent police department.
Every large, multi-jurisdictional metropolitan transit agency in the nation has one. If BART did not have its own force, who then would patrol and investigate crimes on BART property -- spread over five counties and many more cities -- at a time of reduced local police budgets and understaffed agencies?
BART police officers, trained the same way as county deputy sheriffs or city police officers, are subject to the same regulations concerning hiring, training and enforcement as a city or county agency.
The only reason the Times has this as their "question of the week" is the tragic death of BART police Sgt. Tom Smith Jr. and the equally tragic death of Oscar Grant five years ago. Had this shooting not occurred in Dublin, this would not have been the forum question.
The BART Police Department is a professional, competent agency, no better and no worse than any other law-enforcement agency in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, it has suffered a recent tragedy this paper wishes to exploit.
BART police force vital to mission
Certainly BART needs its own police force.
BART runs a unique, dynamic operation in many dozen jurisdictions. It needs to protect not only its own facilities but also the safety and property of hundreds of thousands of riders.
Many thousand BART patrons leave their cars parked all day at BART stations, a tempting target for thieves. Many patrons carry cellphones and other valuable property on their persons.
Enforcement of safety at BART requires close and timely links with operating personnel and detailed knowledge of the system. BART police must always be on the alert for those who would steal from the public through fare evasion or endanger them through malice or ignorance. A police force responsive to the management and the elected board of directors is essential at BART.
Over the years, I have found BART police to be courteous, knowledgeable and helpful as they go about their important duties.
Robert S. Allen
Allen is a former BART director, 1974-1988.
No question BART needs its police
The answer to your question: "Do you believe BART should have its own independent police force?" is a resounding "yes." BART Police are essential.
We are trained and equipped to patrol a unique jurisdiction -- trains traveling through 26 cities, many of which have understaffed police departments with limited resources.
Numbers help tell the story: In three years we've arrested close to 4,000 individuals who were involved in some type of criminal activity who had approximately $31 million in outstanding arrest warrants.
Perhaps most noteworthy: Since 2010 our officers have removed approximately 75 firearms from people riding BART.
Finally, we are specifically trained to protect the nation's fifth-busiest transit system against the ever-present threat of terrorist attack.
Our K9 units are all trained in explosives detection and often assist surrounding police departments.
Thousands of riders rely on BART police each day to protect them from those looking to prey on the public. BART simply would not be BART without BART Police.
BART Police Chief
President BART Police Managers' Association
President BART Police Officers' Association