BART board approves ‘Ambassador Program’ to place unarmed officers on trains

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — BART’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a program Thursday to have unarmed, civilian officers on trains.

Under the Ambassador Program, community service officers would be paired in groups of two and ride the trains along the Transbay commute and in the East Bay.

BART already has a staff of community service officers and under the program, 10 of those officers would serve as the ambassadors.

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

They would be trained in de-escalation and how to handle conflict.

BART Board of Directors Member Debora Allen says her hopes are that the officers will be a good compliment to the sworn in officers already policing trains, plus an added protection for riders.

“Another tool besides the BART police will have to help eyes and ears in the system,” she said. “This form of ambassadors is a little different. They are with the police department. They will be working in pairs and can let others know if something is going on.”

The officers would be on the trains between 2 p.m. and midnight everyday, with extra coverage on Saturdays, the agency said.

Another BART board member, Bevan Dufty, told KRON4 on Tuesday that the program is intended to put more eyes and ears on the BART trains.

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

The program will be launched in February, the agency said Thursday.

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

At the same BART Board of Directors meeting Thursday, the agency also approved a plan to improve WiFi in stations and on new trains.

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