BART's waning hopes of quickly establishing civilian oversight of its Police Department received a boost this week when a state lawmaker from Oakland offered to sponsor a bill to create a BART auditor's post and a citizens board to monitor police.
But BART is unlikely to get all it wanted in the bill because the California Peace Officers Association sharply opposes the transit board's plan to have final say over police discipline. The police chief and general manager now have final say.
"The board isn't happy we can't get the whole thing, but we want to get going with the auditor and citizens board," Thomas Blalock, the BART board president, said Friday. "I think the board feels it's better to get going with most of what's in our plan."
A BART officer's fatal shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III, of Hayward, on Jan. 1 spurred the transit board to propose creation of an 11-member citizens board and the hiring of an independent auditor to monitor police.
On Monday, BART officials said they had no lawmakers willing to carry a bill amending state law so that BART could carry out its plan.
Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Oakland, later agreed to carry a compromise bill that would need widespread support to have any chance of approval before the Legislature adjourns in mid-September.
Swanson said Friday he agreed to insert the BART oversight into one of his bills on another topic after a delegation of BART officials, religious and community leaders put forth a compromise plan without transit board power over police discipline.
"I agreed to facilitate and help them with what they agreed upon," Swanson said. "I didn't cut anything out."
Because the Assembly's and Senate's top leaders will have to approve fast-tracking of the BART bill, any "serious disagreement" over the proposal would sink its chances for approval this year, Swanson said.
Blalock said getting the auditor and citizens board in place would start BART on the road toward greater scrutiny of the police department.
Reach Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267.