Report indicates need for BART police reform

The BART police department should increase the visibility of its officers on trains, document and track racial profiling and streamline its use-of-force policies, according to an independent study of the transit agency.

Those recommendations are among 23 made by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, which urged the police agency to overhaul its hiring and promotion practices and blasted the Police Department’s aging facilities.

Released Monday, the report is the second of two analyses of BART’s enforcement agency that comes in the wake of the fatal shooting death of a BART passenger.

Oscar Grant III, 22, was killed by then-BART police officer Johannes Mehserle on the platform of the Fruitvale station in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Mehserle was charged with murder. His trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 2.

BART’s board in April hired the Virginia-based organization to conduct the analysis of the Police Department — the first such assessment since 1994 — at a cost of around $128,000.

Some of the other suggestions include hiring a public information officer for the police department, more public outreach from officers, and better training and performance assessment.

BART has already begun to implement some of the suggestions, including reforming the Police Department’s use-of-force and training strategies, according to spokesman Linton Johnson.

NOBLE will present its findings at BART’s Board of Directors meeting Thursday morning in Oakland.

“The NOBLE report is thorough, comprehensive and includes serious and substantive recommendations for changes needed to improve policing at BART,” General Manager Dorothy Dugger said in a prepared statement.

In August, the law firm Meyers Nave released its analysis of BART’s operations following the New Year’s Day shooting. That report indicated that BART police failed on a number of different levels in handling the incident, leading to a chaotic aftermath. Two days before the report was released, the agency’s chief of police, Gary Gee, announced his resignation.

Founded in 1976, NOBLE monitors the actions of police departments in 57 separate zones spread throughout the country.

Examiner Staff Writer Mike Aldax contributed to this report.

 

Recommended overhaul

In the first such assessment since 1994, NOBLE’s report advocates that BART:

  • Revise policy and procedure manuals
  • Hire a public information officer
  • Revise hiring process
  • Upgrade demoralizing office sites
  • Proactively search for evidence of racial profiling trends
  • Streamline use-of-force policies

Source: National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives

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