BART receives final reports on New Years Day shooting
BART has received the two reports from the law firm it hired to conduct an independent internal affairs investigation of the BART Police officers involved in the New Year's Day officer-involved shooting at Fruitvale Station. The first report contains extensive information regarding personnel matters, which are confidential and cannot be released under state law. However, the firm BART hired, Meyers Nave, has also completed a public report, which is limited to those aspects of the investigation that are not confidential and not protected from disclosure by state law.
Typically, internal affairs investigations are handled by the internal affairs divisions of police departments. However, to ensure objectivity and complete independence, the BART Board of Directors, in an unprecedented move, chose to have an external party do this review. BART retained Meyers Nave, which has extensive experience in investigating police conduct, to independently investigate whether the actions of officers on the platform violated BART Police policies and procedures and to make recommendations in response to any findings. BART also asked the firm to make recommendations in response to any findings regarding department policies, procedures or practices in a report that could be released publicly. That report is being released today.
"This report is one of the important results of the hard work done by the BART Police Department Review Committee that I appointed in early January," BART Board President Thomas Blalock said. "I appreciate their efforts, which I believe are helping to open a new chapter in our continuing efforts to improve police services at BART."
'We view this report as a very valuable tool that will help us to improve BART's efforts to keep our system safe for all riders while helping to prevent such incidents in the future," BART Board Member Carole Ward Allen, who chairs the Board of Directors BART Police Department Review Committee said. "Meyers Nave has identified a number of tactical deficiencies as well as areas that need improvement and we intend to see that these issues are addressed promptly."
"These two reports are thorough, comprehensive and include serious and substantive recommendations for changes needed to improve policing at BART," BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said. "We are reviewing the reports and their recommendations carefully and are moving forward through our internal process to consider and act on the recommendations as swiftly as possible. In fact, changes in some key areas are already underway."
"This was a very complex investigation. Led by chief investigator Kim Colwell, our team conducted exhaustive interviews with dozens of witnesses and reviewed thousands of pages of transcripts of witness testimony," Jayne Williams, managing partner of Meyers Nave said. "Our investigation results and recommendations are detailed and systematic, and based on our firm's 20 year history of producing objective reports that have led to the discipline of officers, if appropriate, as well as changes in the policies and procedures of law enforcement agencies."
PUBLIC REPORT'S KEY FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS
The public report on BART's police policies, practices and procedures identified a number of areas where BART can improve its response to future incidents and also strengthen its own investigations and reporting of use-of-force incidents. The report's recommendations include:
- Updating the BART policy manual
- Reinforcing tactical concepts
- Improving communications and leadership during incidents
- Instituting more strenuous use-of-force reporting requirements and investigations
- Enhancing transparency into the process
- Training officers on updated policies
- Additional Taser training for officers
ACTIONS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY
The General Manager has directed the Chief of Police to develop an action plan within the next 30 days responding to the Meyers Nave recommendations. The BART Board Police Department Review Committee will review and report monthly on progress in implementing these recommendations. Prior to receipt of the Meyers Nave report, the BART Police Department had initiated changes in three important areas identified in the Meyers Nave recommendation. They include:
USE OF FORCE:
- All use-of-force incidents will now be reported and investigated instead of just significant use-of-force incidents
- Use-of-force reports are forwarded through the chain of command and filed with Internal Affairs
- A new review panel has been established to review all uses-of-force and report recommendations to the Chief of Police
- The BART Police Department training plan and budget will provide 40 hours of training per year for officers (Police Officers Standards and Training requires a minimum of 24 hours every two years)
- Training curriculum includes: cultural diversity, racial profiling, tactical and inter-personal communication, policy manual review, firearms/range/use of force options/policy review, defensive tactics/arrest control, taser recertification, among other topics
- These additional training hours will facilitate the delivery of additional training recommended in the report
POLICY MANUAL UPDATE:
- The BART Police Department is in the process of updating its policy manual using the services of Lexipol, a nationally recognized firm which incorporates the most current legal and regulatory requirements and standards, as well as best practices of law enforcement, into model policies and procedures for use by law enforcement agencies around the country
- The first group of 8 critical policies has been revised and will be issued within the next month. All BART police officers will receive training within the next 30-days on these first 8 revised policies as part of this year's expanded training program
Review of BART PD Policies, Practices and Procedures
Key Findings & Recommendations
Findings : The BART Policy manual had not been updated in some areas since the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.
Recommendations : The manual as a whole be completely reviewed; update all policies on at least an annual basis; BART officers receive regular training on updated policies.
Findings : Shortcomings in tactics used by officers responding to the Fruitvale incident; officers did not follow recommended procedures; officers failed to work as a team reducing their effectiveness by working independently while also increasing their chances of being assaulted; lapses in tactical communication and leadership.
- Develop and publish a policy-level document outlining that supervisors and senior officers assert command and control over a situation as a primary responsibility.
- Provide additional training in enhanced tactics and team strategy to deal with hostile incidents.
- Provide additional Taser training; require officers to wear Taser on opposite side of body from firearm or position Taser so it must be drawn with opposite hand as firearm.
- Take an integrated tactical approach to potentially hostile incidents; officers should immediately request back-up when necessary; one officer should assume control and direct other officers in their actions to control situations.
- Review detention policies to ensure a more expedient turn-around of detainees and better conditions for physical detention so detainees that are not under arrest are not held in hand-cuffs for long periods of time.
Findings : Reporting of use-of-force incidents is substandard.
Recommendations : Require reporting and more thorough investigation of any incident in which force is used, not just significant uses of force.
Findings : BART has had very few deadly force incidents in its history; and some decisions made following the Fruitvale incident could be improved in regards to debriefing and interviewing officers at the scene.
- Require a supervisor to respond and conduct an immediate on-scene investigation and canvass scene for witnesses and evidence.
- Tactics used during every use-of-force incident should be reviewed and commented upon.
- In every use-of-force incident, officers should be debriefed, and in cases where officers were deficient, BART should make a decision to remediate, retain or discharge the officers in question.
Findings : Enhance transparency and accountability.
Recommendations : Consider retaining a reputable auditing or oversight firm with experience in police matters to conduct on-going meaningful audits and evaluations of the BART Police Department.
Findings : Critical reporting mechanisms are deficient.
- Overhaul nearly all critical reporting mechanisms.
- Develop policies using best practices from other agencies to enhance BART's risk management practices.
- Institute Chief-level review of all use-of-force reports and personnel complaints.
- Chief of Police should review and approve all use-of-force incident reports, which should be used as a means to continually improve performance of the Department.