Despite a spasm of violent and deadly attacks on BART, wavering confidence in the system and a depleted police force, the mass transportation agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday (Aug. 9) rejected key elements of a plan presented by BART General Manager Grace Crunican to bolster public safety and security. Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman in a letter and in testimony to the Board urged BART to adopt the full package of security measures. Wunderman also urged the Board to request a regional mutual aid response from other local law enforcement agencies to increase patrols on trains and in stations.
In response to Wunderman’s request, the Board said only that it would direct agency officials to research mutual aid options. However, it was unclear exactly what that meant. The union representing BART police had previously rejected the idea of mutual aid, even as BART grapples with a shortage of officers. Union officials indicated that contract provisions blocked other law enforcement from the system.
“It’s hard to believe in the face of growing public fear and anxiety about safety on BART that the Board wouldn’t act swiftly and aggressively to adopt the full slate of strong measures for restoring confidence in the system,” Wunderman said. “The Board’s decision is a disservice to the more than 420,000 BART riders who rely on the system daily and presents an open invitation to criminals and others who flagrantly ignore system rules and regulations to continue to act with impunity.”
A Twitter survey the Council launched today and targeting users in San Francisco and much of the East Bay where BART operates found 81 percent support more police patrols on BART trains and in stations. A total of almost 400 had responded to the survey as of 1 p.m.
The Council is continuing to advocate for a stronger police response to avoid future deadly attacks on the system and address ongoing public safety concerns that threaten to push passengers away from the system and onto already congested roads and highways.