BART board to vote on ambassador program to place trained, civilian officers on trains

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — BART’s board of directors is set to vote Thursday on a program that would place trained, unarmed civilian officers on trains.

According to Bevan Dufty, president of the BART Board, the individuals would be trained in deescalation and how to handle conflict.

BART already has a staff of community service officers — and under this program, ten of those officers would be paired up in groups of two and ride the trains along the Transbay commute and in the East Bay, Dufty said.

“We feel that having eyes and ears on the system, having someone in a very visible jacket that says ‘ambassador’ is going to really help us — just let people know there are eyes on the system,” he said.

The program would start in two to three months after the vote, if approved, Dufty said.

“This has been something that’s been talked about for a while,” he said. “I’ve been advocating for it for about two years and I’m really grateful our General Manager Bob Powers and Deputy General Manager Michael Jones put together something I think brings together the concerns.”

The ambassadors would be trained by the BART Police Department but would not be sworn in or armed.

Dufty said the ambassadors would be prepared to call police officers for backup, if needed.

“The perception is that there are not enough eyes on the system right now. Let’s try this pilot and get some robust feedback,” Dufty said.

In addition, the board president said BART hired 62 police officers in 2019, though they are still understaffed.

The police department is looking to hire for those vacancies this year.

The pilot program would cost $690,000 of a portion of BART’s operating budget approved in October, Dufty said.

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