BART Police Using Force: Citizen Complaints Skyrocket Since Oscar Grant Shooting

Categories: Public Transit
Thumbnail image for BART officer -- knife in background.JPG
Some people might call this unnecessary
It's safe to say at this point those once lively Monday evening BART protests are now deemed dead on arrival. But perhaps a new audit of citizen complaints against BART police officers will flare protesters' tempers again.

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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Leohaze55
Leohaze55

I have a question for the directors at bart. Why do you have so many bart police assigned to cars? I was under the impression bart police were train or transit police. I also thought that they were employed to keep trains & stations safe. If they are driving around then how can they possibly keep trains & stations patroled. I say get your cops trained as transit cops. Now they are glorified meter maids with guns. The give out parking tickets And by the way the other day at a 7-11 a bart police car was parked in the handicaped zone. I did not know your cops were physically challenged or handicapped. That explains a lot.

guest
guest

How much do you want to bet that those who complained of discourteous officers were lounging with their feet on the seats,eating Doritos, throwing trash on the floor, and listening to their ringtones over and over and over on a super loud speakerphone while their unruly children screamed, cried and hit each other?  Seems like a cultural point was made, i.e. African -American women need to learn how to behave while using public transit, in this article not an abuse of power report.  And unfortunately I have experienced it way too often. Take a ride from Pleasant Hill to the city on BART mid-day during the week and you will see just exactly how small a five car train can be.

Mike_hardesty7
Mike_hardesty7

Right on target, guest. Sick of this PC crap which is why I have long stopped reading the BG and the East Bay Express

withak30
withak30

What is going on with the percentages here?  The four percent sustained isn't quite three out of 66 or two out of 41.  Why not give actual numbers if we are only talking about 66 or 41 total things?

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