While former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle stands trial for murder, the agency’s Police Department will swear in a new chief Thursday.
Kenton Rainey, formerly a police chief in Fairfield, will assume formal command of BART’s 295 police officers by assuming an oath of office at the agency’s board of directors meeting.
Rainey will take over a police department left reeling from the Jan. 1, 2009, shooting death of Oscar Grant III at BART’s Fruitvale station. Grant, who was black, was shot in the back by white BART police Officer Mehserle, an event that triggered riots in Oakland and raised questions about racial profiling in the transit agency’s police force.
Mehserle, who is charged with first-degree murder, took the stand last week in a Los Angeles courtroom to defend his actions on that day. A verdict in the case could come as early as this week.
Rainey will take over for Gary Gee, who resigned Dec. 30 following criticism of his department’s handling of the Grant case.
Rainey has already identified his top priorities for the BART Police Department, which include increasing officer visibility on trains, establishing trust with local communities, and ensuring that best practices are consistently updated.