BART Police Using Force: Citizen Complaints Skyrocket Since Oscar Grant Shooting
|Some people might call this unnecessary|
The transit today agency released an internal review that details the number of complaints against BART police, and how often those complaints are due to unnecessary use of force. According to the report, which was compiled by the agency's Internal Affairs Office, there were 66 "issues of concern" from citizens in 2010. Of those, 41 were investigated as formal citizen complaints. The rest were only considered comments of non-complaint and were not investigated.
Roughly 21 percent of all the formal complaints had to do with use of force issues, including "control hold," handguns being pointed, drawn, or displayed, and "take downs."
Another 21 percent of complaints had to do with officers not being courteous to riders, according to the report. And majority of all complaints came from African American females.
The report showed that in 33 percent of the cases, officers were exonerated while 26 percent were considered "unfounded" complaints. Another 22 percent were not sustained and 15 percent were sustained.
Lieutenant Frank Lucarelli told SF Weekly that the number of overall complaints have increased dramatically since the shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Day in 2009. Prior to the shooting, which former BART cop Johannes Mehserle was convicted for, the agency saw no more than 13 formal complaints against officers.
"It's gone up a lot," Lucarelli said. Part of the reason for that is since the shooting, BART police have started to document and investigate citizen complaints in a transparent format. This is the first year the agency has publicly posted an Internal Affairs audit of citizen complaints, he said.
And of course, the other reason complaints have skyrocketed is that people don't trust BART police as much, he said.
"We are on the radar screen more because of what happened on January 1, 2009," Lucarelli told us. "You've seen the protests, people are genuinely upset with the BART police Department."
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