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Contra Costa grand jury to BART police: Be more transparent

BART’s effort to have its police force be as transparent as can be needs work, according to the findings of a Contra Costa County grand jury that were released last week.
The agency also can improve its security in parking garages and lots, the report states.
The findings were the result of a civil jury investigation that was released May 8. In it, the grand jury concludes that criticism by riders, the news media and some BART officials that its current transparency is lacking and that the impression by many that BART police have something to hide is legitimate.

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“Critics contend that the public has a right to know the type of crimes occurring on BART property,” the report says. “They maintain that failure to provide timely and detailed crime information raises public concerns and creates the impression that the BART PD has something to hide. (The grand jury) considered these issues and found the complaints to be valid.”
The issue of safety and police transparency on BART has increased since 2016, according to the report, with three incidents standing out.

About a dozen teens surrounded a group of people and one of them robbed a passenger traveling on a Warm Springs-bound train about 7:40 p.m. June 30, 2017.
About 50 to 60 juveniles jumped the fare at the Oakland Coliseum station about 9:30 p.m. April 22, 2017, and robbed multiple passengers of cellphones and other items. Two juveniles were arrested, but BART refused to turn over a video of the incident, saying it wanted to avoid racial stereotyping.
A 19-year-old suffered a gunshot wound on a train at the West Oakland station March 9, 2016. After that incident, BART admitted that most of the security cameras on its trains were decoys.

The grand jury also called for BART police to be more transparent with its daily crime log, an item that currently is only available to subscribers. BART briefly discontinued the log in January 2017 until complaints by subscribers caused the agency to change its mind. They had told subscribers to to use crimemapping.com, a website that listed crime occurrences the agency investigated but with nary a detail.
The grand jury recommended BART consider providing permanent links to crimemapping.com and to the subscription forms of the BART daily police log.
Check back for updates.

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