BART police to increase presence at stations

Some BART riders, especially people of color (P.O.C) feel uncomfortable with the implementation of a new plan that would increase police presence in trains and at stations throughout the Bay Area.

The plan was actualized on Sept.15, three days after three people were stabbed in an attempted robbery at the Lafayette station.

Several BART riders responded to this new plan with detestation. BART riders, especially people of color replied via Twitter that implementing BART police in trains and stations actually makes them feel less safe and instead more uncomfortable and anxious.

Dr. Johannes Masare, a Skyline professor of Political Science made it clear that the mistrust between people of color and police officers has been there for a long time.

“There are people who become officers and abuse the power,” Masare said. “The only way to rebuild the relationship is begin talking to each other like humans.”

Masare then proceeded to explain that the community feels safer when officers are akin to the community in ethnicity and diversity.

P.O.C and especially the black and Hispanic community have been known to be harassed by BART police for various reasons. BART riders who now feel unsafe in stations and trains cite the killing of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station as their source of concern. They were dismayed with how the police, who are supposed to be the ones protecting civilians, restrained Grant and shot him in the back eight years ago.

Grant was unarmed when he was shot on New Year’s Day in 2009. He was pronounced dead seven hours after the incident at 9:13 a.m. at Highland Hospital in Oakland, CA.

Witnesses of Grant’s murder testified that they began to record the incident because they believed BART officers were reacting aggressively.

The officers were responding to a 911 call from a train passenger who claimed that an alleged armed man had threatened to rob him.

Michael Smith, an Oakland man who was arrested by BART police last year, has sued four officers and the transit agency for alleged false arrest, excessive force, and assault.

Smith stated that the officers never told him he was suspected of a crime, but as the lawsuit alleges, “They proceeded to beat him severely, including punching him in the face, and using their body weight to crush his chest into the train platform and prevent him from breathing.”

On Sept. 21, SFBART on Twitter responded to Twitter users about how the transportation system changed how they deal with the detained. “The death of Oscar Grant was a tragedy, and we’ve made serious changes to the way officers are trained and behave.”

SFBART then proceeded to give a link to the new changes in regulations the BART officers are required to follow.

There have been some instances recently where BART police issue citations and have aggressively intimidated some of the homeless people who are walking, sleeping, or sitting down in train stations.

Chris Puente, Psychology major, said that in several ways, BART police are “unnecessary”.

“In my 18 years of living,” Puente said. “I’ve never been in, or seen a situation in which they [BART police] need to be there.”