“Making BART safer, that is what we are all working on as directors and BART staff is working on this as well,” said Debora Allen with the BART Board of Directors.
There is a sense of urgency for BART Board Director Debora Allen, who is working on a solution to an increase in crime in 2018.
Violent crime is up 2 percent from this time last year.
She has come up with a 5-point plan to increase safety for passengers.
Number 1? Hire more officers.
“We are still hiring and trying to fill somewhere between 25 and 30 positions. We are now offering $10,000 signing bonuses,” Allen said.
The signing bonus represents the challenge of trying to hire new BART officers in such a competitive market here in the Bay Area.
A starting salary for a BART officer is $67,872, compared to $83,013 for San Francisco police officer and $110,000 for deputy in the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which leads us to point number 2.
“We need to make sure we are paying our officers market rate,” Allen added.
Hiring new officers could take some time.
Allen proposes calling in help from other Bay Area law enforcement agencies.
“Not really a long-term solution, but as as stop-gap maybe we could have some mutual aid in respect to patrolling the gates of the station and the front parking lots,” said Allen.
BART police undergo special training.
They are the only officers qualified to patrol on the actual trains.
“Number 4 would be get the officers out of the cars,” Allen said.
That would increase their visibility and serve as a crime deterrent.
However, she explains getting officers out of the cars does not mean a cop would be on every train.
“The first reason is, we really don’t have enough of them. The second reason is, we need them to get between the stations,” Allen said.
The fifth point of her 5-point plan?
“Look number 5 is addressing the fare evasion. I think that the current, they call it proof of payment system, is ultimately going to prove to be ineffective. That money which is almost a million dollars a year should be spent on replacing the gates, replacing the fencing, electronic mechanisms in the emergency gates,” she said.
Allen says she plans on presenting her 5-point safety plan at the next BART board meeting.
She anticipates her fellow board members will have some ideas of their own.