Public Safety

Prioritizing a Safety-First Approach

Public safety is the core of a functioning and productive society and vital for attracting and retaining a competitive workforce. Unfortunately, issues surrounding crime, safety and cleanliness throughout the Bay Area have soared in recent years, pushing residents, employees, and other visitors away from city centers, decimating transit ridership, and threatening the region’s economic recovery. For the first time in decades, recent surveys of voters and the business community reveal that crime and safety have become the two top concerns in the Bay Area. Restoring confidence in the safety of our downtown business districts, neighborhoods, transit systems and other public spaces is critical.

Recent Progress: Transit Safety
The Bay Area Council launched its crime and safety agenda by focusing on the intersection of public transit and public safety, specifically on the Bay Area’s most essential transit system – BART. The Bay Area Council Employer Return to Work surveys consistently show an overwhelming number of respondents – over two thirds – are concerned for themselves and their employees’ personal safety when riding public transit. Additionally, the 2022 Bay Area Council Poll revealed that nearly 40% of respondents cited personal safety as the reason that they do not take public transit in the Bay Area more frequently.

In response, the Council developed a transit safety work plan and built a strong coalition of over 100 member companies who are engaged and invested in transit safety, reliability, and cleanliness. The advocacy of this coalition recently secured several BART safety improvements, including a recent surge in BART Police Officers on trains and stations and more dedicated funds for BART’s Office of the Inspector General, and is actively pushing forward other changes like the timely deployment of the next generation fare gates. Additionally, the Council, with the support of EMC Research, raised funding for and administered a BART survey, the results of which continue to direct and achieve substantial changes to the system’s safety, cleanliness, and reliability.

The Council also successfully encouraged the BART Board to take a stance in opposition of AB 819 (Bryan), which would have decriminalized fare evasion, and ultimately influenced the Governor’s veto of this harmful bill. Finally, the Council successfully advocated for the passage of SB 434 (Min), which requires the state’s ten largest transit agencies to provide data showing how they are addressing safety concerns on their systems and the experience of riders as it relates to violence and other criminal activity.

2024 Priorities
With the input and guidance of the Bay Area Council Board member and Executive Committee leadership, the Council will prioritize a robust set of goals for 2024, including but not limited to:

  • Continue to lead advocacy to reduce crime and perceptions of crime on BART and other transit systems to draw riders back to the system
  • Guarantee more security presence and quicker emergency response times throughout the Bay Area by supporting public safety agencies to fill unprecedented vacancies with local, diverse hires through a regionwide sworn office recruitment and perception campaign
  • Address rampant retail and property theft and vandalism by exploring potential reform to laws and policies that are preventing stronger enforcement
  • Leverage technology as a key public safety resource and support its growth in the Bay Area where appropriate, such as expanding the network of security cameras, including Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) cameras and speed safety cameras, as well as work to support changes to local laws to allow greater use and access to camera footage by authorized public safety personnel.

Public Safety Committee Co-Chairs
Rick Callender, CEO, Valley Water
Jim Levine, Managing Partner, Montezuma Wetlands
Jeff Littlefield, Chief Operating Officer, SFO
Denise Pinkston, Managing Director, TMG Partners
Greg Suhr, Director, Safety and Security, Salesforce Tower
Danny Wan, Executive Director, Port of Oakland

Get Involved
Join the movement to make the Bay Area a safer place for all who live, work, and visit. To get involved in the committee and to learn more information about Bay Area Council public safety initiatives, email Policy Director Laura Hill.

Policy Leads

Laura Hill image
Laura Hill

Policy Director, Transportation and Public Safety

(415) 946-8741

Subscribe to The Weekly Flash Subscribe
News and Guts Search Menu Left Angle Up Angle Down Angle Right Angle Left Arrow Right Arrow Email User Play Pause Fullscreen Exit Fullscreen Unmute Mute Close Loading Gallery Arrow Gallery Youtube Facebook Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn Pinterest Google + Flickr Yelp Trip Advisor